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Islanders doomed by penalty parade, Rangers come back to take rivalry night 5-3

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Islanders Rangers 12-22-22
New York Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin makes a save as New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider (20) looks for a rebound during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Munson)
AP Photos

It’s a shame that on Dec. 22, the Islanders and Rangers played their last game against each other in the regular season because the NHL could probably benefit from them doing this a few more times. 

The Rangers overturned three one-goal deficits, scoring three in the third period to defeat the Islanders 5-3 on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. 

Kaapo Kakko scored the winner with just 2:47 to go in regulation as the Rangers took full advantage of undisciplined Islanders play. Just seconds after killing off their sixth penalty of the night, Islanders forward Mathew Barzal saw the puck jump over his stick his own zone on the left boards. Defenseman K’Andre Miller pounced, sending a centering feed to Kakkko, who popped a one-timer over the shoulder of Ilya Sorokin in what would  be the game-winner. 

“Up 3-2 on the road is a good spot to be,” Barzal said. “I don’t really know what to say. It obviously sucks… The puck just rimmed around. I tried to get a stick on it. It just kind of jumped. I don’t know what happened. They just kind of swatted toward the net and it was a lucky bounce so that’s really it.”

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For added measure, Vincent Trochek added an empty-netter with 1:32 to go in regulation.

The Islanders were left to play on their heels for the majority of the night given their constant pipeline into the penalty box. Despite holding the Rangers to only one power-play goal on the night, the Islanders were limited to just 18 shots on goal.

“I thought we generated a little bit tonight but not a whole lot,” Barzal said. “They’re good defensively.”

The Islanders found an unlikely opener despite being outplayed for most of the first period. They scored on just their third shot of the night 12:48 into the first period in lucky fashion when Anders Lee’s centering, blind feed from the right goal line deflected off the skate of Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren and past Igor Shesterkin. 

Three Islanders penalties, however, helped open the door for a Rangers equalizer. After killing off the first part of a 5-on-3, Sorokin was beaten easily by a well set-up one-timer by Artemi Panarin to tie things up at the 17:14 mark of the frame. 

After putting just five shots on goal in the first period, the Islanders could only muster eight more in the second, yet they were able to sneak two more past Shesterkin. 

Josh Bailey forced a turnover at the Islanders blue line to spring Barzal on a breakaway. The star center faked a wrister before going to his backhand, roofing his chance over Shesterkin and into the back of the net 2:39 into the second for his fifth goal of the season. 

“Sometimes you can have a tendency to try and funnel more pucks to the net,” Bailey said of the Islanders’ sporadic offense. “It’s not always going to be 30-plus shots. You have to find a way to win the games that maybe you don’t get that whole funnel of shots at the net.”

Julien Gauthier found an equalizer for the Rangers just 2:51 later, however, when he got a step on a lofted entry pass over Isles defenseman Robin Salo and managed to finish his breakaway chance under Sorokin. 

The Islanders found a quick reply, though, as Alexander Romanov’s slap shot from the point whizzed through the wickets of Shesterkin 3:15 after Gauthier’s tally to put the visitors back in front 3-2 heading into the break. It was Romanov’s first goal of the season and first as an Islander. 

Sorokin had to be plenty sharp to keep the advantage intact heading into the final 20. He made a sprawling toe save on a Mika Zibanejad one-timer midway through the period before stacking the pads and shoveling a shorthanded breakaway attempt from Barclay Goodrow with his legs with three minutes to go.

Salo’s difficult night continued three minutes into the third period when he was unable to clear Goodrow from the crease. It was the Rangers forward’s redirection on a Gauthier shot that beat Sorokin to tie things up at three apiece.

NOTES

  • Casey Cizikas did not return to the Islanders’ bench to start the third period. Head coach Lane Lambert would disclose any updates on the winger. 
  • The Islanders ended their five-game road trip with just one win, picking up four of a possible 10 points. 
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