Chris Kreider’s power-play goal with 24.6 seconds remaining lifted the Rangers to a 3-2 victory over the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday night.
A late zone entry saw Mika Zibanejad’s shot saved by Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov, but the rebound came to a wide-open Kreider, who put it away.
“It feels pretty good. It’s a really good team over there, this has always been a tough building to play in,” Kreider said. “We had to be patient and really work for our chances.”
The Rangers were afforded the late man advantage after Derick Brassard was called for a crosscheck on Jesper Fast within the final minute, much to the disbelief of the Islanders’ forward.
“I still can’t believe that was a call there in the corner,” Brassard said of his penalty. “That happens a hundred times in a game… The ref in the corner had nothing but the guy in the neutral zone decided to call that. It is what it is… it’s too bad it ended up like that.”
Anthony Beauvillier drew things level for the Islanders just seven minutes earlier, which was no easy task given how well Rangers netminder Alexandar Georgiev performed.
The Rangers’ perceived third-string goalie turned away 38 of 40 Islanders shots to continue his stellar play against the Blueshirts’ geographical rival.
That included his shutdown play on all five Islanders man-advantage opportunities.
“If you’re killing penalties, your goaltender needs to be great,” Rangers head coach David Quinn said. “And he was great.”
“Give credit to that goaltender on the other end there,” Islanders captain Anders Lee said. “He made some pretty phenomenal saves.”
He is now 4-0-1 in his career against the Islanders, who started fast trying to exact some revenge from a 6-2 loss at Madison Square Garden on Monday night.
They outshot the Rangers 22-6 through the opening 20 minutes, with Georgiev proving to be unbeatable through 19 of those. The Islanders were finally rewarded for their steady pressure with 51 seconds left in the frame when Josh Bailey roofed a wrister for his second goal in as many games.
The play was created by an aggressive forecheck by Tom Kuhnahckl, who won the puck behind the net and centered a pass to Ross Johnston inches in front of Georgiev. Rather than shoot at a close angle, Johnston touched the puck behind him to an open Bailey, who converted.
The Rangers found their legs in the second, holding the Islanders without a shot for the first 14 minutes of the period. They used the Islanders’ offensive inactivity left the door open for their equalizer.
Mika Zibanejad stuffed home a scramble in front that was overturned by an official’s review two minutes after the initial play.
The Islanders would muster just five shots in that period despite having two-straight power plays.
The host’s power-play issues came back to haunt them in the third period. Just moments after failing to convert on their fourth man-advantage opportunity of the night, Anthony DeAngelo — who committed an interference penalty — sprang out of the penalty box to put the Rangers ahead with a wrister over Varlamov.
“Just a real gutsy effort by our guys,” Quinn said. “Our special teams were huge… our penalty kill was immense… just a ballsy effort.”