It was a win the New York Islanders desperately needed to come away with, and they did just that on Thursday night against the New York Rangers.
The Islanders scored twice in the first period, one in the second and an empty netter in the third on their way to a 4-0 shutout win over the Rangers to snap a three-game losing streak. Leo Komarov, Oliver Wahlstrom and Mathew Barzal ended goal droughts, and Anthony Beauvillier picked up his third goal in his last five games.
Semyon Varlamov picked up his sixth shutout of the season with a 25 save effort. Thursday was the third time this season that Varlamov blanked the Rangers.
The victory came at a crucial time for the Islanders, who had been struggling of late as the season began to wind down. The Isles got off to a strong start in the first period, outshooting the Rangers 10-7 and quickly putting two goals on the board.
The New York Islanders remained within striking distance of the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, both of whom have been jockeying for the top spot in the East Division. The victory also kept the Boston Bruins at bay in fourth.
They can clinch a playoff berth on Saturday when the two sides play one another for the final time this season on Long Island.
Komarov scored his first goal of the season 6:27 into the first period of the Islanders’ 50th game of the year. Nick Leddy weaved his way into the offensive zone before dishing the puck off to Eberle, who sent the puck across the ice to Komarov for the goal inside the faceoff circle.
It was Komarov’s first regular-season goal since Feb. 21, 2020, against the Detroit Red Wings.
The New York Islanders extended their lead to two a little over six minutes later while on the power play. Wahlstrom scored his first goal since March 25 against Boston when he came across the top of the slot and beat Shesterkin with a powerful wrist shot.
It was also the first point Wahlstrom registered in 10 appearances.
The New York Islanders made it a 3-0 lead 1:03 into the second period when Beauvillier scored off an offensive zone faceoff win. Brock Nelson won the draw and moved the puck back to Scott Mayfield, who was able to quickl send the puck to Beauvillier in the slot for the goal off a wrist shot.
Barzal capped off the night with his first goal — albeit an empty netter — at the 14:26 mark of the third after he had come out of the penalty box. The Islanders star had been called for boarding Brendan Smith and forced the Islanders into an important kill.
Islanders head coach Barry Trotz continued to fiddle with the team’s forward lines. Komarov returned to the lineup after being a scratch on Tuesday and was back on the first line with Barzal and Jordan Eberle.
Noah Dobson also returned to the lineup after having Braydon Coburn take his place in Washington.