Rangers rally over Islanders again, set franchise record for wins

NHL: New York Islanders at New York Rangers
Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday afternoon, the New York Rangers hosted the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden to wrap up their four-game season series. The Blueshirts dropped the previous game between the Empire State rivals on Tuesday before inching closer to clinching the Presidents’ Trophy thanks to a come-from-behind shootout win, 3-2.

The visiting Islanders were ahead 2-1 in the late stages of the third period before Artemi Panarin extended his point streak to 12 games at 4:17 with a perfectly placed snipe on a faceoff win to tie the contest at 2-2. Despite carrying the momentum through the final frame, with 20 shots, the Islanders almost regained the lead when Casey Cizikas rang one off the post minutes after The Breadman’s lamplighter.

After combining for 74 saves through regulation and overtime, Russian netminders Igor Shesterkin (33 saves) and Ilya Sorokin (41 saves) were busy making highlight-reel saves until the final buzzer.

In the end, with the game on the line in the shootout, Panarin and Vincent Trocheck beat Sorokin. At the same time, Shesterkin turned away Kyle Palmeri and Nelson in the one-on-one competition to secure a franchise-record 54th victory.

The win gives the Rangers a three-point cushion over the Carolina Hurricanes to win the Metropolitan Division and the same three-point lead over the Hurricanes and Dallas Stars for the Presidents’ Trophy.

“When you play with confidence, you play with the best version of yourself,” Trocheck noted. “That’s a big part of why we comeback in games.”

New York Rangers 3 vs New York Islanders 2 (SO)

NHL: New York Islanders at New York Rangers
Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

After a scoreless first period, the Rangers opened the second shorthanded, with Kaapo Kakko off for a double minor for high sticking. The Blueshirts had the best chances on the Islanders’ extended power play, including a Ryan Lindgren breakaway. Still, it soon turned into a brief two-skater advantage for the visitors when Lindgren went off for boarding.

While killing off Lindgren’s infraction, the Rangers kept pressing, generating great chances on Sorokin before Braden Schneider scored his fifth of the season at 4:33 with assists from Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider.

“I saw I could beat their third guy up the ice,” Schneider said. “I took a shot and got a rebound. I was luck for that, and slid it home.”

Through hard work, the Islanders kept the game close, officially tying the game at one apiece at 11:42 when Brock Nelson scored his first of the game. After a Rangers turnover at the blue line, Shesterkin made an initial save, but as the puck bounced to the side of the net, Nelson banked one off of the goalie’s toe.

Nelson struck again at 19:32 of the second. After battling for the puck behind the net, Hudson Fasching tried a wrap-around that Shesterkin thought he had, but instead, the puck was in the slot on Nelson’s stick, and he buried home his 32nd of the season.

The final 20 minutes featured some exciting hockey but lacked the physicality that usually comes with Islanders and Rangers matchups. Despite the Blueshirts getting their chances and Sorokin finishing the frame with 19 saves, Shesterkin stole the show. At 13:15, he robbed Fasching with a split save and then stoned Adam Pelech on a penalty shot at 6:56, allowing the Rangers an opportunity to stay in the game.

Now that the Rangers have set the franchise record for regular-season wins, they can turn their attention to winning the division and securing the best record in the NHL. Their quest continues in the season finale on Monday against the Ottawa Senators.

Some of Ryan Gagne's all-time favorite goalies have been Mike Richter, Henrik Lundqvist, and Igor Shesterkin. As a Yankees... More about Ryan Gagne

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