The New York Rangers were on the ice for the first time in more than four months Wednesday, and unfortunately, the outcome wasn’t in their favor, as the Islanders edged the Blueshirts, 2-1, in first and only tune up before the Qualifying Round against Carolina begins Saturday.
Igor Shesterkin and Henrik Lundqvist both split the game , while Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greiss also split time in the crease for the Islanders.
Anthony Beauvillier (1) - Andy Greene (1) & Noah Dobson (1) - 9:15 2nd Period
Despite the Rangers controlling a majority of the play throughout the opening period, it was the Islanders that struck first at the midway point of the middle frame. Beauvillier snuck in behind the Rangers’ defense off of a great outlet pass from Greene and broke in on a 2-1 rush. Beauvillier waited until the last possible second to release his shot, and beat Shesterkin on the short side to make it a 1-0 game.
Devon Toews (1) - Derick Brassard (1) & Ross Johnston (1) - 15:35 3rd Period
In a reversal from the first half of the contest, it was the Islanders who controlled momentum and began generating more chances int he offensive zone. More soft coverage in the neutral zone led to another quick break the other way for the Islanders, who extended the lead to 2-0 off a flip pass by Brassard over two Rangers and put the puck right on Toews’ tape as he entered the zone.
Filip Chytil (1) - Jesper Fast (1) & Brendan Smith (1) - 16:22 3rd Period
It took nearly 57 minutes, but the Rangers finally got on the board at the 16:22 mark courtesy of Chytil. Much like the Islanders first goal, Smith started the rush with a crisp outlet pass through the middle of the ice, and found Fast on a partial breakaway. Greiss stopped the initial shot, but Fast kept on the puck and shoveled another shot towards the front of the net, which Chytil was able to collect in front and buried the puck to pull the Rangers back within a goal.
It was a sloppy game overall, which was to be expected after a 20-week layoff. Kaapo Kakko was one of the players that stood out the most tonight as he appeared more confident with the puck, and got himself into great shooting positions.
Following tonight’s exhibition matchup, the Rangers will have a quick two day break before they open up Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Qualifying Round on Saturday afternoon.