The New York Rangers reached their 50th win by pulling off a feat not seen since the days of Eddie Giacomin and Gilles Villemure.
Coming off three straight shutouts, the Rangers will seek another victory Thursday night when they visit the rival New York Islanders for their second visit to the first-year arena in Elmont, N.Y.
The Rangers (50-21-6, 106 points) are at 50 wins for the fifth time in team history and first time since the 2014-15 season. New York also owns a shutout streak of 180 minutes, six seconds since allowing an empty-net goal to the Carolina Hurricanes on April 12.
When Igor Shesterkin finished off a 31-save performance in Tuesday’s 3-0 win over the visiting Winnipeg Jets, that gave the Rangers three straight shutouts for the first time since Feb. 4-10, 1973, when Villemure and Giacomin combined on three consecutive shutouts.
Shesterkin (20 saves) also blanked Detroit 4-0 on Saturday, while Alexandar Georgiev made 28 saves and silenced Philadelphia by the same score on April 13.
The Rangers have spent virtually the entire season chasing Carolina. They were five points behind the Hurricanes following a 7-4 loss at New Jersey on March 22 and are 10-2-1 since then, pulling them into a tie with points with the Hurricanes, whose 43 regulation wins are one more than the Rangers.
During their current hot stretch, the Rangers have clamped down defensively while scoring 45 goals. They have allowed one goal or fewer seven times and conceded 30 shots or less in 11 games.
“It’s obviously a credit to our goalies, but I think also we’re playing good hockey,” said New York’s Ryan Strome, who scored twice Tuesday. “They’re there when we need them, but all in all, I think guys are buying in pretty good and I think we understand what it takes to win right now and what makes us successful.
The Rangers, whose worst performance during this stretch was a 3-0 home loss to the Islanders on April 1, will face an opponent still mourning the loss of all-time leading scorer Mike Bossy, who died Friday.
New York’s first season in its new building saw the team fall out of contention early and the Islanders (35-31-10, 80 points) are just trying to finish over .500.
The Islanders are 4-4-1 in their past nine contests. After being officially eliminated from playoff contention with Sunday’s 4-2 loss at Toronto, the Islanders blew a one-goal lead and took a 3-2 loss to the red-hot Florida Panthers when Ilya Sorokin (39 saves) was beaten by Aleksander Barkov 20 seconds into overtime.
“I thought we played a solid game,” Islanders center Mathew Barzal said. “I think just our organization, the mindset no matter what the circumstances are — back-to-back or long trips — or a situation like this where we know we’re eliminated, and playing some good teams we’re just building a culture here.”
Including Thursday’s clash with the Rangers, the Islanders play four of their final six games at home, where they’ve compiled a 19-13-5 record.
–Field Level Media