Elmont, NY–Holding a four-goal lead entering the third period, the New York Islanders let up goals to Brennan Othmann and Barclay Goodrow that brought the New York Rangers to within two. With under a minute to play, Will Cuyelle scored with an extra attacker on the ice to cut the Islanders’ lead to one.
If not for a hot start to begin the game and an empty-netter in the final seconds, the Islanders may not have held on for the 5-3 exhibition win at UBS Arena on Saturday night.
Starting strong from the opening faceoff is an encouraging sign for an Islanders team that struggled to do so a year ago, but even more so is the fact they got contributions from all four forward lines.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau and the Islanders’ third line found the game’s opening goal seven minutes into the first period with assists from Julien Gauthier and Anders Lee. The Islanders captain finished the night with a Gordie Howe hat-trick, as he squared off with Goodrow later on in the first and scored the empty netter at the end of the game.
Two minutes after Pageau’s tally, Brock Nelson doubled the lead with an assist from Hudson Fasching.
Finally, to close out the period, Bo Horvat collected a cross-ice feed from Simon Holmstrom in the neutral zone, flying into the Rangers’ end and around the net to tuck the puck between the post and the outstretched pad of Jonathan Quick.
All three of the Islanders’ goals in the period were the direct result of quick puck movement, which continued in the second when the fourth line got in on the action.
After pressuring the puck hard on the forecheck, Kyle MacLean made a quick pass to the slot that Cal Clutterbuck then buried over Quick’s glove-side shoulder.
Quick made 17 of 23 saves for the Rangers before being replaced by Dylan Garand ahead of the third period. Meanwhile, Semyon Varlamov played the entirety of the game for the Islanders, stopping 20 of 23 shots.
Although he didn’t factor into the final decision, defenseman Alex Romanov made his preseason debut for the Islanders, making his return from offseason shoulder surgery. Romanov lit up the stat sheet in the only way he could by leading the team with four hits and three blocked shots.
Following their win on Saturday, the Islanders are now 2-1 thus far in the preseason. They’ll play three more exhibitions, starting with their game Monday night at the New Jersey Devils, before beginning the regular season two weeks from tonight.