The New York Rangers took on the New York Islanders on Sunday night, losing in overtime. The Rangers ran out the exact same lineup as Friday night’s win, except they changed goaltenders. Igor Shesterkin got the start Sunday, even after Alexandar Georgiev made 31 saves in Friday night’s 4-1 win. A storyline before the game was about tonight’s starting goalies Shesterkin and Ilya Sorokin who are longtime friends from their time growing up playing in Russia. The first period was all Islanders, but a flurry of line changes at the start of the second gave the Rangers a spark.
A Rough Opening Period
In the first period, the Islanders were ahead from the get-go. An early delay of game penalty by Chris Kreider led to a Kyle Palmieri power-play goal to make it 1-0 Islanders early. Kreider’s play in the first period was bad enough that it forced the Rangers to move him down to the fourth line and give Vitali Kravtsov some looks with Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich. The Islanders had 17 of their 32 shots on goal in the first period and outshot the Rangers 17-8. The Rangers came out flat and did not look good at all in the first 20 minutes. Near the end of the period, the Rangers looked to be in the clear, but Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored with eight seconds left.
Rangers Find Their Legs in the Second
In the second period, the Rangers came out with some fire, taking the play to the Islanders. The shifted lines allowed Kravtsov to play his best hockey in his short NHL career. Kravtsov had around three or four would-be assists, most notably when he set up Pavel Buchnevich who hit the post with the score still 2-0. A few minutes after Buchnevich hit the post, the kid’s line of Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko, and Alexis Lafrenière put together a good shift. Kakko made a pass out to the point for Libor Hajek who scored off an Islander player’s skate. Just two minutes later, Kravtsov got his first assist on Brendan Smith’s game-tying goal.
A Tough Way to Lose
After the third period, the score remained 2-2 but not without each team coming close. A Ryan Lindgren shot deflected off an Islander player’s skate again, this time off the crossbar and out. In overtime, Zibanejad made a strong move to the net but Sorokin stayed with him to make a save. Just a few seconds later, The Islanders doubled-teamed Chytil along the boards in the Rangers zone. He lost the puck and Strome lost his man. Off a great pass, Ryan Pulock scored Sunday’s game-winning goal, his first of the year.
The Rangers played well in the final 40 minutes of the game, which has been a common theme this year. For the team to be successful, they have to play a strong 60-minute game. When the Rangers don’t play a good 60 minutes, they lose in overtime like Sunday against the Islanders. On a brighter note, the Rangers were able to gain in the standings with the overtime point. The Bruins’ 8-1 loss to the Capitals kept them at 48 points on the year. The Flyers’ loss against Buffalo kept them at 44 points. The Rangers’ overtime loss puts them at 44 points, just four points out of a playoff spot. The Bruins do have two games in hand against the Rangers, but they are against the Islanders and Capitals. With 15 games remaining in the season, the Rangers are in the thick of the playoff race.