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New York Islanders

No Luck For Islanders: Fall To Rangers And Further In Playoff Race



AP Photo/Seth Wenig

There were no horseshoes or four-leaf clovers for the New York Islanders on Sunday afternoon.

After falling in overtime on Saturday, the Islanders desperately needed to rebound with a win in order to keep pace in the Eastern Conference wildcard race. Instead, they dropped their fourth game in a row, falling to the New York Rangers by a final of 5-2 at Madison Square Garden.

“I saw a team that played better than us today,” Islanders head coach Patrick Roy told reporters in Manhattan. “The Rangers, they managed the puck much better than what we did. They’re very fast in transition and I thought they had more energy than us.”

Like the Islanders, the Rangers played a game less than 24 hours prior to puck drop but had no problem getting started on Sunday, beginning the game with a flurry of chances.

But as the St. Patrick’s Day crowd settled in, so too did the Islanders, eventually tipping the ice in their favor and striking first.

Just as a four-on-four situation changed to a Ranger power play, Brock Nelson won a race to the puck behind the net and dished it to Bo Horvat at the left faceoff circle, where he roofed a shot for a shorthanded score.

The Islanders carried the 1-0 lead into the intermission but quickly had it erased when Mika Zibnanejad blasted a one-timer past Ilya Sorokin from the high slot, tying the score 27 seconds into the second period.

The middle frame was much more fluid than the previous one. Both sides flew up and down the ice, trading chances without many stoppages in play.

Will Cuylle gave the Rangers their first lead as he slipped into the zone behind the Islanders’ defense and threaded a shot just underneath the glove of Sorokin.

Horvat evened the score at 13:55 of the period with his second goal of the afternoon and 29th of the season, only for Jonny Brodzinski to put the Rangers back in front just over a minute later.

The Islanders lost their grip in the third period as their defensive structure broke down. Kaapo Kakko made it 4-2 Rangers when he skated untouched off the half-wall past five Islanders defenders to open the third period. The lead ballooned to three when Alexis Lafreniere was left wide open in the slot to drive a shot past Sorokin.

“They kind of took it to us, and we definitely didn’t have enough pushback,” Horvat said. “We did have a couple of chances. But, at this stage of the season, we need to have a lot better push than that if we want to beat those guys.”

The goal by Lafreniere was indicative of the issue that hung around the Islanders’ necks all afternoon. With so many Rangers able to skate freely into high-danger areas, Sorokin finished the game with 26 saves on 31 shots after being left out to dry throughout the afternoon.

“I thought he was good,” Roy said of Sorokin. “The goals that he gave up, I mean, I don’t know if he could have done.”

The crowd at MSG was much less sympathetic toward Sorokin. Chants of “Igor, better” echoed across the arena in the third period in support of Shesterkin, who stopped 25 of 27 shots.

At 29-23-15, the Islanders have picked up just one point in the standings over their last four games as they prepare for another tough matchup on Tuesday at home against the Carolina Hurricanes.




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