The New York Rangers were able to force overtime tonight after a pair of second period goals, but Ryan Pulock ended the comeback hopes at 1:13 of the extra frame. Libor Hajek and Brendan Smith each scored in the second period to quickly erase a two-goal deficit for the Rangers. Igor Shesterkin got the surprise start this evening given Alexandar Georgiev’s recent track record against the Islanders, and put together a 29-save performance.
Kyle Palmieri (9) - Brock Nelson (10) & Josh Bailey (19) PPG - 1:47
Chris Kreider sent the Rangers to the penalty kill just 1:23 into the first period, and gave the Islanders an early opportunity. Just 24 seconds into the man-advantage, Kyle Palmieri registered his first goal as an Islanders after jumping on the loose puck in the crease. The initial shot through traffic by Brock Nelson gave Igor Shesterkin some trouble, and the rebound kicked into open space. Palmieri’s opening tally not only gave the Islanders the first lead, but also gave them some abbreviated momentum following the goal.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau (12) - Jordan Eberle (13) & Mathew Barzal (23) - 19:52
The Rangers were just a step behind the Islanders for portions of the first period, and their lackadaisical coverage gave the Isles a late 2-0 lead. Mathew Barzal was able to backup the Rangers’ defenders with his speed through the neutral zone, and deferred an outside pass to Jordan Eberle. All three Rangers back were caught puck watching, and that left Jean-Gabriel Pageau wide open on the far side of the ice. Jordan Eberle found Pageau with a crisp cross-ice feed, and he wired a slap shot under the crossbar to make it a 2-0 game.
Libor Hajek (2) - Kaapo Kakko (6) & Filip Chytil (8) - 10:23
Even though the Rangers mistakes cost them in the first period, Libor Hajek stopped the bleeding midway through the second period. New York was able to string together several strong shifts in the offensive zone, and they were finally able to transition that into a goal. After Filip Chytil’s initial chance was denied by Ilya Sorokin, Kaapo Kakko move the puck back to the point to reset the play. Libor Hajek found a wide open shooting lane, and fired the puck past Sorkin through some traffic at the top of the crease.
Brendan Smith (3) - Mika Zibanejad (18) & Vitali Kravtsov (1) - 12:16
Libor Hajek’s opening tally gave the Rangers some life, and they were able to quickly tie the game just under two minutes later. Vitali Kravtsov did an excellent job of grabbing a loose puck in the left faceoff circle, and threw an attempted pass through the middle of the ice. The puck wound up taking a deflection off of Mika Zibanejad’s skate, and landed right on the tape of Brendan Smith. Smith didn’t get all of the shot and it flipped completely over Ilya Sokorkin to tie up the game at 2-2.
Ryan Pulock (1) - Mathew Barzal (24) - 1:13
This game needed extra time to decide a winner, and unfortunately for the Rangers, it took just over a minute for the Islanders to swipe away the second point. Mathew Barzal made a great play along the wall to strip the puck from Filip Chytil, and found Ryan Pulock streaking in uncontested from the blue line. Pulock caught the pass in transition and fired a hard wrist shot just inside the left post to ice the game in overtime.
Even though the Rangers weren’t able to secure the extra point, they moved within two wins of the final playoff spot behind the Boston Bruins. The Rangers responded nicely in the second period after being a step behind early in the game, and the third period was a defensive stalemate on both sides of the ice. After closing out the two-game set against the New York Islanders, the Rangers will begin a four-game series with the New Jersey Devils starting on Tuesday evening.