The New York Rangers played an extremely strong game tonight against the New York Islanders, but unfortunately, they were defeated by a final score of 4-1. Aside from a few chances on the power play, the Rangers controlled the play at even strength, and probably deserved a better outcome. The Islanders were able to make the most of their chances, and they capitalized on the few scoring chances they had.
Henrik Lundqvist was yanked after the second period in this game, after allowing three goals on 16 shots against, and honestly, it was for the better. With the Rangers unable to move up any further in the standings, there is really no point in riding Henrik Lundqvist into the playoffs. Their playoff spot is guaranteed, and the only possible way they can go is down. Again, not necessarily a bad thing either.
As it standings right now, if the Rangers remain in the first wildcard spot, they will matchup with the Florida Panthers in the first round of the playoffs. Given how dangerous the Metropolitan Division is with both the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to play through the Atlantic Division. There are still a lot of moving parts in order for that to happen, so we'll have to see how that plays out.
Anyways, on to the game. If the Rangers continue to play like they did tonight, minus the poor coverage on the goals, they will be in good shape heading into the playoffs. After a scoreless first period, the Rangers held five times as many scoring chances compared to the Islanders. With a strong period under their belts, the Rangers looked to carry that over to the second.
For the most part, they did. Unfortunately, the Islanders were able to score three unanswered goals within a seven minute span, and jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Shane Prince got it all started at the 13:28 mark of the first period, as he deflected Marek Zidlicky's point shot and tapped the puck around Lundqvist's pad. Nearing the end of the period, both Casey Cizikas and Frans Nielsen scored on consecutive chances and made it 3-0 heading into the third period.
The Rangers carried their play over into the third period, and continued to pressure the Islanders in the offensive zone. Finally, with about 3 minutes remaining, Kevin Klein broke Thomas Greiss' shutout streak and brought the Rangers back within a pair of goals. Following that, the Rangers pulled the goalie in a last ditch attempt at getting back into the game, but they fell short.
As disappointing as it is to lose to the Islanders, the Rangers probably made out better with the outcome given how the playoff seeding is currently lined up. The Rangers will have one more game remaining against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday afternoon, before turn their full attention to the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.