Islanders Edge: Varlamov a brick wall, Isles rally in 3rd to defeat rival Rangers
photo credit: Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images
After a complete and resilient team win on Saturday, the New York Islanders looked for a spark on Monday night to beat their arch-rival, the New York Rangers. The first two periods were very evenly matched, without much open ice for either side to work with. The Isles killed off penalties, and Semyon Varlamov denied Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad on golden opportunities to put their team in front. It was a goaltending battle tonight, and the better defensive team and goaltender won. When the Isles play the Islander structure, they can beat anyone. Will this be a start to a hot stretch of play? Was this what the Isles needed to get going? It looks like it.
With each team fighting for every inch of ice, you likely won’t see highlight-reel goals. The Isles “Identity Line” was just fine with that, feasting on the Rangers defense in the final few minutes. 11:15 into the third period, the fourth line did what they do best. An aggressive forecheck caused a turnover. Adam Pelech threw it on net where it bounced around, and Casey Cizikas was able to find it and backhand it past Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin his second goal of the year. Pelech picked up his third assist on the year, and Matt Martin his second. 2:25 later, Mathew Barzal sent Cal Clutterbuck into the zone, he swung the puck in front of the net from the corner, and Matt Martin was able to put it home for his first goal and third point of the season. With the Ranger net empty, Adam Pelech went to the penalty box on a delay of game call. The Isles did what they do best and got the job done on the six-on-four. The Isles shutout the Blueshirts for the second time this season and move to fourth place in the MassMutual East Division. Barry Trotz picked up his 850th win as an NHL head coach and moves to third of all time on the list. Shots on goal were even tonight at 30-30.
The Isles play next at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday. Puck drop is set for 7:00 PM Eastern Time.