Recap: The Kids Are Alright, Rangers Win 5-2

Recap: The Kids Are Alright, Rangers Win 5-2
Mar 17, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) celebrates his goal with center Jack Roslovic (96) during the second period against the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

A Stadium Series rematch. A St. Patrick’s Day Showdown. The first Rangers-Islanders game at the Garden in over a calendar. Points in the standings becoming more and more valuable with each passing day. There were a million reasons to get up for this game and sure enough, it was quite the battle of New York on this glorious Sunday Afternoon. While the Islanders, who are desperately fighting for a playoff spot, put up quite the fight, the Rangers held on and came out on top with another massive win to cap off their busiest week of the year.

1st Period:

With both teams on the second half of a back-to-back, it wasn’t a particularly quick start to things but the Rangers did a great job of sustaining offensive zone pressure early and often. Through the first five minutes of play, the Blueshirts completely dominated play, holding the Islanders without a shot on goal and registering four of their own in the meantime. The Islanders first threat came when they caught the Rangers in the middle of a change which left  Brock Nelson all alone where Igor Shesterkin came up with a key blocker save.

Nearing the midway point of the period, the Islanders had a great chance on a 3-on-1 that was broken up by Zac Jones who continues to shine bright in the absence of Jacob Trouba.

Ever since returning to the Rangers lineup, Jones has proven to be a steady, reliable presence on the back end and through the first twenty this afternoon, was showing early signs of another great game. Later in the period, he had one of several quality scoring chances for the Rangers as he walked right into the zone, cutting to his backhand to get a sneaky shot of Ilya Sorokin.

With eight minutes to go in the opening period, Mat Barzal dug his body into the chest of Vincent Trocheck which resulted in the Rangers taking the first penalty of the day as Trocheck was sent off for holding. The teams shared scoring chances back and forth and just as the man advantage was coming to an end, the Islanders were given their first penalty as Pierre Engvall was called for holding the stick of Ryan Lindgren.

Shortly after the Rangers power play began, the Isles got a shorthanded chance and Bo Horvat was able to send the puck to the back of the Rangers net off a crisp pass from Brock Nelson down low to make it a 1-0 game.

It would count as a power play for the Rangers, but they really wouldn’t get a proper chance as Adam Fox collided with Casey Cizikas upon entering the Islanders zone which gave the Rangers another penalty, this time for interference. Nothing came on the 4-on-4 or the brief Islanders power play which was the start of things closing out for the first period. Rangers had the advantage in attempts, high danger chances and shots on goal at 13-7. The Islanders however, had the 1-0 lead, won 59% of the face-offs and were out-hitting the Rangers.

2nd Period:

The Rangers got off to a much quicker start in the second as less than 30 seconds in, an Islanders turnover set up Jack Roslovic for a great pass to Mika Zibanejad in the slot who let his classic one timer go to beat Sorokin, tying things up 1-1.

With four points in his last five games, Mika March may very well be in full swing.

Things slowed down a bit from there but closer to the games midway point, the intensity picked up as did the scoring chances. Jimmy Vesey had a great chance off a nice feed from Fox but Sorokin did a great job of staying in position to take away that side of the net. 14 seconds past the ten minute mark, Will Cuylle put home a great wrist shot to extend the Rangers lead by one off a fantastic outlet pass from Ryan Lindgren.

The lead wouldn’t last for long unfortunately as the Islanders were hungry for the equalizer. Sure enough, after a couple minutes of the Islanders humming in the Rangers zone, Bo Horvat picked up his second of the night capitalizing on a redbound that came off a redirected shot from the point to tie things up 2-2.

The Rangers were quick to answer as Jonny Brodzinski was able to get a stick on a K’Andre Miller slap shot that tipped one past Sorokin to regain the lead now 3-2 Rangers with five minutes to go in the second period.

Then things took a brutal turn. Ryan Lindgren got tied up with Jean-Gabriel Pageau heading into the Rangers corner which left the Rangers heart and soul defender down and not getting up. Upon taking the hit, it appeared that Lindgren’s knee completely snapped back awkwardly which was not an encouraging sight by any means. A scary sight for sure as the hope will absolutely be that it isn’t anything too serious and Lindgren won’t be out for too long.

Not only would the Rangers be short-staffed on the bench with Lindgren leaving the game, but they would close out the period short-handed as Alexis Lafrenière was called for tripping Brock Nelson. No harm with the foul as the Rangers held onto their one goal lead into the second intermission but the loss of Lindgren overshadowed the otherwise positive takeaways. Islanders out-shot the Rangers 14-11 through the second despite the Rangers still looking to be in the driver’s seat.

3rd Period:

As expected, it was announced that Ryan Lindgren would not return to the game. Just an absolute tough blow but nevertheless, the show must go on. The Rangers quickly found the back of the net again as their third line, specifically Alex Wennberg and Kaapo Kakko continued to generate consistent offensive zone pressure which as we’re now seeing, is leading to actual goals.

Kakko did a great job of coming out of a battle along the boards with the puck and went straight to the slot area to let a quick shot go. Between his acceleration upon picking up the puck and his ability to quickly get the shot off in stride, Sororkin didn’t stand a chance as the puck found the back of the net to extend the Rangers lead, 4-2.

That line continued to generate offense as the Rangers were holding strong to that two goal lead near the midway point of the third. On the shift that immediately followed their’s, Alexis Lafrenière, who has to lead the Rangers in scoring chances, finished on an absolute rocket of a one-timer that tucked right under the crossbar to make it a 5-2 game. An outstanding shot from the Rangers youngster but an equally as great pass from Panarin down low to set up the play.

It was a very quiet back half to the third period as the Rangers refused to take their foot off the gas and the Islanders didn’t appear to make things very difficult for them. Patrick Roy, who has made pulling the goalie with lots of time left, a staple of his in his early Islanders tenure, wouldn’t even pull Sorokin which may speak volumes to how he felt about his team’s effort this afternoon. The Rangers stayed the course and after out-shooting the Isles 8-6 in the final period, they came out on top with a 5-2 win.

That’s four wins in five games spread across seven days which is a very impressive feat for the New York Rangers. On top of that, you have Mika Zibanejad on a point streak, Artemiy Panarin playing like the superstar he is and on top of it, goals from Cuylle, Kakko and Lafrenière is something very exciting to see. From top to bottom, this team has been getting impressive efforts from everybody, proving they are a deep team gearing up for the postseason.

The Rangers certainly earned some rest after their eventful week but will be right back to work on Tuesday as they’ll host the Winnipeg Jets. In the meantime, Matt Rempe will come off suspension and all the attention will turn to potential updates on the status of Ryan Lindgren.