A great game came down to a break and the Islanders got it and earned it last night at Madison Square Garden.
In a highly contested and exciting hockey game, Kyle Palmieri’s deflection with 2:44 left in the third period gave the Islanders a hard fought, 2-1 win over the Rangers.
Neither team deserved to lose, and the adages were all applicable. “This was like a playoff game,” “Kept you on the edge of your seat,” and of course, “What a game!”
Both teams played well and it came down to a bounce that benefitted the road team. “We played great, from start to finish, thought we played a great hockey game,” coach Gerard Gallant said after the game. “Disappointing to lose 2-1 but you play like that most nights, you’ll get success.”
Palmieri’s goal proved to be the game winner but Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin won this game as he made some incredible, mind boggling saves that kept the Rangers from scoring more than one goal.
In the first period, Sorokin may have made the save of the year when he robbed Artemi Panarin. The Rangers “Bread Man” had a wide open net, but Sorokin dove across the crease and while being outstretched, he robbed Panarin by getting the shaft of his stick on the puck.
This game featured an awesome goaltending duel as Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin was equally as good in making 26 saves. It was only Shesterkin’s third loss in regulation at home as he just happened to give up one more goal than his opponent. “They were both great, they both made some real good saves and he [Sorokin] was outstanding,” said Gallant. “I remember the save on Panarin in the first period. Goaltending was excellent tonight. It was a good hockey game, back and forth, two evenly matched teams. Unfortunately for us they got the bounce at the end.”
After a scoreless first period, Islander captain Anders Lee extended his goal scoring streak to six straight games as he scored on the power play to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead in the second.
Lee was in the slot and took a pass from Matthew Barzal where he was able to wrist it over Shesterkin’s left shoulder.
Chris Kreider continued his terrific season as he scored his 40th goal of the season on the power play. Alexis LaFreniere, who gains more confidence with every game, fed Kreider on the left side with a beautiful pass and the Rangers leading goal scorer buried the puck to tie the game at one.
The Ranger winger leads the NHL with his 21st power play goal as he continues to add to his career year.
The game was tied at one when Palmieri was able to tip a puck in midair past Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin. Palmieri had gotten behind the defense and was able to be in position to take advantage with his stick off the ice.
Getting behind the defense is something that the Rangers will need to clean up as it’s been happening too many times in recent games.
The Rangers didn’t lose because of the officiating but the refs missed a couple. Right before the winning goal, Rangers’ defenseman Ryan Lindgren took an elbow to the face that drew blood, but there was no call.
Newly acquired left wing Frank Vatrano made his Ranger debut and played a little less than 15 minutes. “It was great, especially playing in a rivalry game, first game, St. Patrick’s Day,” Vatrano said. “Obviously, wish we got the two points. ‘Shesty’ [Shesterkin] gave us a good enough chance to win the game.”
Vatrano got a chance to play on the second line with Ryan Strome and Artemi Panarin. “It’s a great opportunity playing with two world class players like that,” he said.
This game was what we’ve come to expect from Rangers/Islanders. “It was a good hockey game, 2-1 game. The effort we had tonight, I don’t like the result,” said Jacob Trouba who had the secondary assist on Kreider’s goal.
The Rangers are two points behind Pittsburgh for second place in the Metropolitan Division with a game in hand. The schedule gets a little more grueling, however, as they head to Tampa Bay on Saturday night and then a game with the division leading Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday.