Battle of New York: Rangers top Islanders, inch closer to playoff position

Apr 9, 2021; Uniondale, New York, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba (8) and New York Islanders left wing Matt Martin (17) fight for the puck during the first period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Alexis Lafreniere and Colin Blackwell scored in the second period Friday night for the visiting New York Rangers, who gained ground in the East Division playoff race by beating the New York Islanders, 4-1, in Uniondale, N.Y.

K’Andre Miller and Mika Zibanejad also scored and Alexandar Georgiev made 31 saves for the Rangers, who moved past the idle Philadelphia Flyers into fifth place in the East Division, five points behind the Boston Bruins.

Andy Greene scored his first regular-season goal since Feb. 13, 2020 for the Islanders, who had their four-game winning streak snapped as they fell into a first-place tie with the Washington Capitals. Semyon Varlamov recorded 32 saves.

After a scoreless first period, a turnover by Varlamov behind the net led to the first of two Rangers goals in a span of just under four minutes.

Varlamov’s clearing pass bounced off the boards and was knocked down by Lafreniere. The puck bounced into the faceoff circle, where Kaapo Kakko pounced and passed to Filip Chytil in front of the net. Varlamov turned back Chytil’s shot and rebound attempts by Lafreniere and Kakko before Lafreniere tucked a fourth shot under the legs of Noah Dobson and past a sprawling Varlamov at the 6:05 mark.

A quirky bounce helped the Rangers double the lead with 9:59 left in the period. Artemi Panarin’s pass into the crease bounced off the leg of Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock and to Blackwell, who fired a shot under Pulock’s legs and over Varlamov’s shoulder.

Brock Nelson appeared to pull the Islanders within a goal with 5:53 left, but his redirect of a shot by Adam Pelech was waved off because it was ruled Nelson raised his stick too high.

The Islanders needed another 46 seconds to cut the gap in half for real on the long-awaited goal by Greene, whose shot from the blue line sailed past four players — teammates Jordan Eberle and Leo Komarov as well as the Rangers’ Ryan Lindgren and Adam Fox — and past Georgiev.

The Islanders’ Cal Clutterbuck had a shot ring off the far post early in the third before the Rangers extended the lead again with 8:12 left, when Miller’s shot from the point sailed under Varlamov’s stick arm. Zibanejad added a length-of-the-ice empty netter with 1:12 left.

–Field Level Media