The New York Islanders fourth line looked like the fourth line again on Monday.
Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin scored two goals in the third period in a span of two minutes and five seconds to lead the Isles to a 2-0 win over the New York Rangers. The victory was the Islanders’ second consecutive and the fourth straight game that they’ve picked up points in the standings.
Monday was a big night for the team’s fourth line, which had been under the microscope during the Islanders’ recent struggles. Martin’s goal was his first of the season and part of an evening that saw the fourth line return to form in the way of its physical play and jump.
“We’ve been having a little bit of tough luck with pucks going in on us,” Cal Clutterbuck said. “Obviously, it doesn’t sit well with us, not at all. So it’s nice to have a couple go our way, especially in a big game.”
In addition, they were aided by another strong performance by Semyon Varlamov. The New York Islanders starter made 30 saves in his second shutout of the season against the Rangers. Varlamov made 11 saves alone in the third period, which included a save on a breakaway chance by Artemi Panarin and then another moments later on a two-on-one chance.
Varlamov became the first Islanders goaltender to record two shutouts against the Rangers in a single season.
“He’s been pretty incredible all year against all the teams he’s faced,” Martin said about Varlamov. “He keeps getting better… Tonight might’ve been a different game if he wasn’t back there.”
The win helped New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz take sole possession of third place on the NHL all-time wins list with 850, surpassing Ken Hitchcock.
“Everywhere he’s gone, success has followed,” Martin said about Trotz’s milestone. “He, along with Lou and the rest of the coaching staff, built a strong culture and make us play the right way and hold us accountable every single night. He’s the coach that everyone loves playing for and it’s having a lot of success over his career.”
Cizikas broke a scoreless tie late in the third period to put the Islanders ahead with 8:45 left on the clock. A shot on net by Adam Pelech was stopped by Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin, but Cizikas was able to sweep the rebound into the net for the game’s first goal.
— Isles on MSG+ (@IslesMSGN) February 9, 2021
Just over two minutes later, the Islanders gave themselves a two-goal cushion, with the fourth line coming up big again.
Mathew Barzal sent Clutterbuck chasing after a puck in the Rangers end of the ice. Clutterbuck reached it near the end boards and quickly fed it to Martin in front of the net for the goal.
“I just think we hung in there,” Cizikas said about the win. “We like our resiliency over our last four games… and getting wins in the last two.”
Monday was the third meeting between the Islanders and Rangers. They will not meet again until April 9 at Nassau Coliseum.