Sometimes a date with a heated rival is just what struggling teams need to reverse their fortunes. The New York Islanders had been playing lackluster as of late, but in their game against the New York Rangers on Tuesday they raised their compete level in a dominant 6-1 victory.
That was the second time in six games the Islanders had beaten the Rangers by five goals. It was more surprising given how hot the Rangers offense had been while the Islanders had been anything but productive since both teams last met on April 11.
The Rangers had taken four of four from the New Jersey Devils in which they averaged 4.5 goals per game and 18 goals in total. Nine of those goals had come in the first period, where the Rangers had been off to hot starts which is the opposite of what the Islanders had been doing of late.
The Islanders, on the other hand, lost two of three on their road trip. It was back-to-back losses against the Boston Bruins last Thursday and Friday before a 1-0 overtime win Sunday to the Philadelphia Flyers. The Islanders only averaged 0.67 goals per game, failing to record any goals in the three first periods.
The Islanders’ offense had gone dry, with the one win because of a fortunate bounce and Ilya Sorokin.
So when the Islanders were able to shut down their red-hot rivals completely, that was a vital sign this Islander team was figuring things out.
Given the shortened season, the Islanders 4-2-0 record against the Rangers meant more than in the past. Points are always harder to get at the end of the season when desperation plays more of a role. The Islanders had seen themselves start to fall in the standings despite still being in a playoff spot.
The regulation win kept the Islanders right there with the Washington Capitals in the standings, moving them back into a tie for first in the East.
Given the offensive output Tuesday, the Islanders should be confident that they could do the same thing against Washington over the next three games.
The teams have split the first four meetings this season, with the winning team taking home the two points each time. The Islanders have been lights out at home this season, as they have collected 40 of a possible 46 points. That record looks like 19-2-2.
Washington is currently tied with the New York Islanders atop the East Division, but has not played their best hockey lately. The first two are at the Coliseum and if the Islanders can continue the dominance at home, they will put themselves in a great mental spot when they face the Rangers again at Madison Square Garden.
Semyon Varlamov is 2-3-0 vs. the Capitals this season with a .886 SV% and a 3.04 GAA. Ilya Sorokin has not faced the Capitals this season but is 8-0-0 at home so he may be slated to start one, if not both home games.