New York Islanders continue to give New York Rangers trouble with 4-2 win

By Larry Fleisher, The Sports Xchange
Persistence was the theme for the New York Islanders on Thursday night as they continued their recent success over the New York Rangers with a 4-2 victory. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Persistence was the theme for the New York Islanders on Thursday night as they continued their recent success over the New York Rangers with a 4-2 victory. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK -- For John Tavares, frustration turned to persistence in a span of mere seconds.

In fact, persistence was the theme for the New York Islanders on Thursday night.


Tavares set up Nikolay Kulemin for the winning short-handed goal 3:03 into the third period as the Islanders continued their recent success over the New York Rangers with a 4-2 victory.

"The guys' second and third effort was awesome," said Islanders coach Doug Weight, who improved to 9-3-2 since taking over from Jack Capuano on Jan. 17 and watched his team rebound from an ugly 7-1 loss at Toronto on Tuesday.

The third period began with the Islanders nursing a 2-1 lead but forced to kill off a double-minor high sticking penalty by Josh Bailey after his stick drew blood from Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh with nine seconds left in the second period.


With 17:06 remaining, Kulemin had a shot blocked by McDonagh. Nine seconds later Tavares' backhander was stopped at the doorstep by goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, but his tenacity kept the play alive.

Tavares maintained possession and as McDonagh and Mika Zbanajad hesitated to defend the play, the Islanders' captain fed Kulemin with a nifty no-look pass from the right side of the net for a 3-1 lead.

"I was a little frustrated I didn't put it in, but Kulemin made a great play just coming around the net," Tavares said. "It kind of popped up and I kind of had to make a little soccer play. I was just in tight and just tried to stay with it.

"I knew (it was) just a scramble. So you're just trying to get a visual and see where everybody is. I saw that Kulie was right in front of the net and they were all kind of turned facing me. So I saw him there and if not I know we got our (defense) high in the point. Maybe you can throw it back and (buy) some more time. So I was just trying to be persistent."


Kulemin's goal occurred after Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss stopped shots by Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello. The Rangers also saw shots by McDonagh and J.T. Miller go wide of the net.

"We didn't sort it out and it cost us. In a game like this where we had some good looks, five-on-five, special teams can decide the game and it did." Lundqvist said.

Anders Lee and Andrew Ladd scored second period-goals for the Islanders, who are 6-1 in the last seven meetings with the Rangers and 4-0 in their last four home games against their rivals since moving from Nassau Coliseum after the 2014-15 season.

Those goals also occurred after deft plays by others.

Lee scored his team-leading 22nd goal after Tavares started the play from behind the net. Lee then finished it by putting the puck under Lundqvist's stick into a slightly vacated net after a nice cross-ice feed from Bailey.

Ladd, who also added an empty-net goal, scored after Stephen Gionta checked Rangers defenseman Marc Staal from behind after Lundqvist hesitated in deciding to play the puck. Ladd finished it off by converting Gionta's pass from behind the net.


"They were awesome," Lee said of the various Islanders' assists.

Nick Holden scored 6:23 in the first period by finishing off a two-on-one with Zuccarello. Rookie Jimmy Vesey scored a contested goal 33 seconds after Kulemin's goal.

Vesey's goal stood after the Islanders challenged, thinking Nash should be called for goaltender interference. The goal stood after a brief review, but the Rangers were unable to get the equalizer and had their season-high six-game winning streak stopped.

"When we gave that one up, it was a tough hill to climb," Lundqvist said of the Islanders' third goal.

Greiss made 25 saves for the Islanders and Lundqvist finished with 19 stops for the Rangers.


-- Islanders D Travis Hamonic (lower body) skated for the first time on Thursday morning since getting being placed on injured reserve Jan. 12.

-- Rangers RW Pavel Buchnevich was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career. Buchnevich had two goals and four assists in his first four games back from missing two months with a back injury but only has one assist in his last 10 games.

-- C Shane Prince (upper body) and RW Cal Clutterbuck (lower body) also sat out for the Islanders.


-- Rangers D Kevin Klein (flu) was a game-time decision and wound up sitting out. Asked about the ice issues at Barclays Center, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said, "You have ice issues in a lot of buildings, that's just the reality the NHL today. It is something that depending on the weather outside, the humidity, some ices aren't good for five, six minutes. Some others are better than others. It's part of the NHL. It's the same for both teams and we'll just deal with it."

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