The Islanders and the Rangers met for just the second time this season as the battle of New York took to MSG on St. Patrick’s Day. So literally nothing eventful could possibly happen, right?
Ilya Sorokin and Igor Shesterkin stood across from each other, both in the top five of goalie save percentages this season, as well as Chris Kreider who was chasing his 40th goal, and Anders Lee who is finally heating up after months of struggle. Additionally, this was Rangers fans first look at Frank Vatrano, who the Blueshirts picked up from Florida just yesterday for a fourth round pick.
After a dominant performance by the Rangers but a series of fantastic saves by Ilya Sorokin, the first period went by scoreless and almost completely penalty-less. But not without some big hits and the rumblings of a rematch between Matt Martin and Ryan Reaves from their last meeting.
Sorokin with the stick save to keep Panarin from opening the scoring. Impressive after that royal road pass to set up the shot. pic.twitter.com/qEFUh70BcB— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) March 17, 2022
NYI: Anders Lee (23) (PP)- Mat Barzal (27) & Noah Dobson (25) - 0:50
With his ninth goal in six games, Lee opened the scoring early in the second while the Rangers were still attempting to kill off the hooking penalty from the first period. Lee has been red hot lately, especially from ‘his office’ out in front of the net.
About halfway through the period, it almost looked as though it was three-on-three with the way the momentum shifted end to end every play. The energy in the Garden, even through the television, screamed playoffs. Whether it be the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day or the clinic the goalies were putting on, the second half of this period was simply electric.
NYR: Chris Kreider (40) (PP) - Alexis Lafreniere (6) - Jacob Trouba (21) - 13:38
The momentum finally turned paid off when Kreider scored on the power play for the Rangers with an impressive breakaway turned scoring opportunity. A career high in both goals and power play goals for Kreider, he finally hit the 40 mark. Lafreniere had the primary assist here after a ton of good playmaking early in the game.
This opened the floodgates for penalties, with both teams exchanging a pair before time expired on the second period.
The period began with a scuffle between Ryan Reaves and Zdeno Chara, who had a pretty notable hit earlier in the game but ultimately amounted to nothing.
After a few questionable calls and killed penalties, time dwindled down to the end of the period with the suspense only growing and the crowd cheering louder.
NYI: Kyle Palmieri (11) - Ryan Pulock (12) - Adam Pelech (17) - 17:16
Late in the game, Ryan Lindgren took an elbow to the face with no whistle and as a result the puck got close enough for Palmieri to tip it in and get the game-winner. Lindgren very blatantly asked for a call, while bleeding from the face as he does, and we’re all left to wonder what was going on with the penalty calling tonight.
Ultimately, the clock ran out and it ended 2-1 in an incredible goalie battle that no one should be upset at. Shesterkin faced just two more shots than Sorokin, and still posted a .929 save percentage. Special teams shined, and the Rangers controlled a lot of the play. The most you can say about this one is to not take it to heart, and get ready for the next one.
The Rangers will still meet the Islanders three more times this season as they gear up for a playoff run. The Blueshirts will play the Lightning to begin a road trip on Saturday at 8pm, followed by the Hurricanes on Sunday.