Julien Gauthier and Kaapo Kakko rescue Rangers to beat Islanders

julien gauthier new york rangers
Dec 22, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers right wing Julien Gauthier (12) scores a goal against New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin (30) during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers went into the Holiday Break with huge smiles on their faces by beating the New York Islanders 5-3, but none bigger than those belonging to Julien Gauthier and Kaapo Kaako.

Gauthier was a catalyst in the Rangers rally over the rival Islanders after being a healthy scratch for three games. He registered a goal and assisted on Barclay Goodrow’s tying tally in the final frame.

A measure of poetic justice was also served when Kaapo Kakko broke the tie with 2:47 remaining in the game scoring the eventual game-winner. Earlier in the contest, Kakko had an egregious turnover that led to a Mathew Barzal breakaway goal for a lead in the second period.

“Obviously that was my fault, and I think that happens for everyone,” Kakko said. “That’s the way you need to think after that. I think it was a good shift before that happened. It was nice to score a goal like that in the end, especially after a play like that.”

Julien Gauthier and Kaapo Kakko lead rally

new york rangers
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Anders Lee put the Islanders on the board first at the 12:48 mark when a centering pass banked off defenseman Ryan Lindgren’s skate and behind Igor Shesterkin. The Blueshirts top netminder never has it easy against the Isles as he came into the match with a 1-7-1 career record.

Artemi Panarin would tie the game on the power play by one-timing a beautiful feed from Mika Zibanejad. It was the third penalty the Islanders took in the opening period.

The second period was a rough one for the Rangers as their quest to hit as many posts and crossbars in a single-season continued. Barzal gave the Isles a 2-1 lead just under three minutes in off a terrible turnover at the blue line by Kakko, who was dangerously playing with puck.

Gauthier would answer back a little over three minutes later as he took a gorgeous Goodrow flip all the way in on Ilya Sorokin for a goal.

“Sometimes it works better than others but I try to play every game the same way,” Gauthier smiled. “Everything was rolling tonight. It was fun to contribute to the win.”

Again, the Islanders responded and took the lead again before the middle stanza was finished. This time it was defenseman Alexander Romanov with a seeing-eye shot behind a screened Shesterkin.

Then the Rescue Rangers of Gauthier and Kakko went to work in the final frame.

First, it was Gauthier throwing a shot on net that Goodrow tipped in to knot it all up exactly three minutes in.

Both teams spent the next 14 minutes trying to break the deadlock and it would eventually happen after the Isles took their sixth penalty of the game.

Six seconds after the Isles killed off Scott Mayfield’s cross checking minor, K’Andre Miller found a streaking Kakko. Within a fraction of a second, he roofed it over Sorokin’s glove to complete the rally.

Vincent Trocheck would ice it with an empty net goal and salvage the last game of the Rangers season-series against the Islanders.

“Obviously in an important game like it was tonight, to give that goal up, it’s tough on a young player,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said, referring to Kakko. “But I saw [Chris] Kreider and Goodrow down there talking to him. You know, you’re going to make mistakes, but it’s nice that he finished it off the right way. It makes it a lot easier for him, for sure.”


Notable Rangers

  • Igor Shesterkin picked up his second career win vs Isles
  • Vincent Trocheck has 10 points in last 6 games
  • Kaapo Kakko has 5 goals and 2 assists in last 8 games
  • NYR went 9-2-1 heading into the break

Next Game: Tuesday, December 27 vs Washington Capitals (7:00 PM ET)

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Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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