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Rangers vs Islanders: A 6-3 Fish Fry

New York Rangers v New York Islanders Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Two New York teams with very different seasons came into tonight’s matchup at UBS Arena in Long Island. We had the New York Islanders, who had just been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs this past weekend by the Toronto Maple Leafs and their former captain John Tavares, and the New York Rangers, who were looking to win this grudge match and clinch home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

At first, it seemed the game was going to quickly slip away from the Islanders as the Rangers were in total control for the first period. Andrew Copp continued to impress in blue, as the newest Ranger scored in bunches tonight against the Islanders. His play continues to build a case for the team to re-sign him in the offseason, the chemistry he has with Panarin is worth the Rangers’ first-round pick alone. The line of Panarin, Strome, and Copp had 9 points in tonight’s game.

The Islanders’ play bounced back in the second period as the ice began to tilt their way. But this fortified Rangers team did not take their foot off the pedal. They continued pressing and scoring on Varlamov, which has been a struggle to do when playing at the Garden. There was some concern as the game wound down that both Copp and Chytil weren’t on the bench, but Gallant clarified that they should both be fine.

1st Period

Andrew Copp (19) - Artemi Panarin (71) & Jacob Trouba (28) - 3:43

Strome and Trouba applied pressure to the Islanders in the Rangers’ zone and forced a turnover. Chara misplayed the puck and it was quickly scooped up by Trouba and dished over to Panarin who broke into the offensive zone. With Trouba breaking towards the net Panarin waited for Copp to catch up to the play and put the puck right on the tape of his stick in the high slot. Copp wasted no time beating Varlamov glove-side for his 200th career point and putting the Rangers up early in the first period.

Andrew Copp (20) - Artemi Panarin (72) & Adam Fox (59) - 7:48

Just a little while later, the Rangers had the puck in the Islanders’ zone and Artemi Panarin was once again getting to work. The Islanders allowed the Russian wizard far too much time and space as he covered for Fox on the left point. He was able to make not one, but two attempts to thread a pass through the slot to Copp on the side of the net, and the second time Copp made them pay for it.

Andrew Copp (21) - Ryan Strome (32) & Artemi Panarin (73) - 18:13

To cap off the natural hat trick, Copp put his third of the game into an almost wide-open net, but this time getting the puck directly from Strome. Panarin made an excellent defensive play and stole the puck from the Islanders in the neutral zone. He put his body on the line and took a hit to get the puck over to Copp who was breaking in with Strome. Copp deftly moved the puck over to Strome and broke towards the net and was able to direct a saucer pass into the back of the net for his third of the night, while once again burning the Chara-Dobson defensive pair.

2nd Period

Brock Nelson (35) - Josh Bailey (27) - 0:37

Any fan could tell the Islanders came out of the gate in the second period looking to get back into the game. They immediately controlled play in the Rangers’ zone, and Chara whipped the puck towards the net. It careened off of Trouba in front, and Bailey batted the puck towards a wide-open Brock Nelson who easily beat an out of position Georgiev to put the Islanders on the board and break the Rangers shutout streak at just over 200 minutes.

Chris Kreider (51) - Adam Fox (60) & Mika Zibanejad (51) PPG - 17:15

Late in the second period, the Islanders took the first penalty of the game. The Rangers quickly got to work in the offensive zone as Fox moved the puck around on the perimeter. After getting it back from Zibanejad, Fox fired the puck on net. Varlamov made a blocker save, but our lord and savior Chris Kreider was there to bang it home past Varlamov. Now one closer to Jagr’s total of 54, Kreider’s pursuit of the Rangers’ single-season goal record continues.

Ryan Strome (20) - Artemi Panarin (74) & Adam Fox (61) - 19:07

While playing 4 on 4 due to Wahsltrom challenging Trouba and the both of them going off for roughing, Ryan Strome was feeling a little left out. Strome then decided it was going to be his turn to score off of a perfect pass from Panarin. Adam Fox started it off by making a tough play look simple, hitting Panarin in stride with a crisp backhand pass. Panarin then skated into the offensive zone and immediately drew double coverage. He waited just long enough to pass it to a wide-open Ryan Strome who floated in closer to the top of the left circle and wristed the puck past Varlamov.

3rd Period

Brock Nelson (36) - Matthew Barzal (39) & Noah Dobson (33) PPG - 2:06

Early in the third period, the Islanders went up on the Power Play. They won the faceoff and quickly moved the puck around the blue line. Dobson shifted the puck over to Barzal on the right side boards who wasted no time immediately sending the puck to an open Brock Nelson in the middle of the ice. Nelson bided his time using Palmieri as a screen and was able to beat Georgiev through his five-hole.

Ryan Reaves (4) - Alexis Lafrenière (11) & Goodrow (18) - 12:53

Lafrenière and Goodrow were able to intercept the puck in the Rangers’ zone and then break out quickly into a 3-on-1 rush. Lafrenière slid the puck over to Goodrow who gave it right back to him, skating towards the net he sent a hard pass over to Reaves banking it off his stick and into the back of the net.

Josh Bailey (12) - Noah Dobson (34) & Zdeno Chara (11) - 13:22

Shortly after Reaves put the Rangers up 6-2 the Islanders got one back. In the Rangers’ zone, Bailey tried to put the puck on net but the puck was blocked and bounced out to the blue line. Chara grabbed and passed the puck to Dobson who saw Bailey wide open at the bottom of the left circle. Dobson crossed it over to Bailey who put it over a sprawling Georgiev to put the Islanders back within 3.

The Rangers dominated the Islanders tonight, while clinching home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs they brought their overall record against the Long Island team to 2-2 on the season. We’ll next see the Blueshirts travel to Massachusetts next to take on their potential first-round opponent, the Boston Bruins this Saturday afternoon. home-ice