New York Rangers hand Islanders 7th straight loss; win UBS Arena debut
The New York Rangers won their sixth game in their last seven tries. It was a 4-1 victory that saw the Blueshirts win a physical contest taking advantage of the Islanders misfortunes. The Isles loss extended their losing streak to seven straight games and third to open the UBS Arena.
When this was all said and done, the Rangers moved to within two points of first place in the Metro Division at the Thanksgiving break.
“We weren’t happy with our first 10 games even though we had a good record,” Gerard Gallant admitted. “I think we’ve played better since then and it’s coming together.”
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Rangers extend Islanders losing streak
Chris Kreider and Kevin Rooney each scored twice Wednesday night for the surging New York Rangers, who cruised to a 4-1 win over the free-falling New York Islanders in the first game between the rivals at the Islanders’ new home, UBS Arena in Elmont, N.Y.
Goalie Igor Shesterkin made 20 saves for the Rangers, who have won six of seven (6-1-0).
Andy Andreoff, one of the many reinforcements called upon with the Islanders missing 10 players due to injuries and COVID-19, scored his first goal in almost four years for the hosts, who have lost seven straight games, all in regulation — the franchise’s longest regulation losing streak since the 2010-11 squad dropped eight straight in regulation.
Isles goalie Semyon Varlamov recorded 17 saves.
“It’s tough,” Islanders’ Casey Cizikas said after the loss. “We’re working. That’s the thing, we’re working hard, we’re trying to get in those spots, they’re just not falling for us right now. I think that’s the frustrating thing, guys are working, guys are trying.”
Rangers 4th line comes through
After a scoreless first period, a hooking call on Mathew Barzal six seconds into the middle period led to the Rangers’ first goal a mere 23 seconds later. Ryan Strome, who played his first four NHL seasons with the Islanders, passed from the top of the right faceoff circle to Kreider, who put his stick down and deflected the puck under Varlamov’s glove.
The Rangers doubled their lead about 12 minutes later following a steal in the neutral zone by Barclay Goodrow, who stole the puck from Otto Koivula and exchanged passes with Ryan Reaves. Varlamov deflected a shot by Goodrow, but Rooney leaned his stick into the crease and poked home the rebound with 5:32 left.
The Islanders briefly cut the deficit in half 3:52 into the third, when Andreoff recorded his first NHL goal since Feb. 19, 2018 by redirecting Koivula’s shot. But the Rangers extended their lead back to two goals just 20 seconds later, when Rooney took a pass from Reaves and beat Varlamov with a shot into the wide-open right corner of the net.
“We just want to create momentum for the team,” Rooney said of his line. “If the pucks go in, they go in. We had a game a couple weeks ago in Columbus (a 5-3 win on Nov. 13) where we played really well, but they didn’t go in for us. It was still a strong game. We’re just trying to be consistent. When they go in, hopefully they come in bunches.”NHL.com
Kaapo Kakko, surrounded by three Islanders, managed to get his stick on a loose puck along the boards deep in the hosts’ zone to set up a sequence that ended with Kreider sending a shot past Varlamov for the Rangers’ insurance goal with 8:58 left.
In the end, the Rangers 4th line outclassed the Islanders in a role reversal from the last few seasons.
“They were great, they did their job tonight obviously,” Gerard Gallant said about his 4th line. “Reavo made some great plays, Rooney got a couple of goals, and Goodrow was great. Our 4th line was the difference for me tonight.”
Note: I want to thank you all for reading Forever Blueshirts this past year. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
Islanders actively looking for help. There’s a mess in Vancouver and the Rangers goalie issue. Read here.
–Field Level Media contributed to this article