Rangers keep rolling, dispatch of slumping Islanders 5-2

Rangers Islanders Brodzinski Miller
New York Rangers’ Jonny Brodzinski (22) reacts after scoring during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the New York Islanders, Sunday, March 17, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NEW YORK, NY — The Rangers continue to roll and did so at the expense of their crosstown rivals, taking care of the Islanders 5-2 on Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. 

Mika Zibanejad, Will Cuylle, Jonny Brodzinski, Kaapo Kakko, and Alexis Lafreniere scored for the Rangers (45-19-4), who have won five of their last six games. Igor Shesterkin made 26 saves in the win to outduel his good friend and Islanders goalie, Ilya Sorokin, who stopped 25 shots of his own.

Both teams were on the second leg of a back-to-back, coming off afternoon games the day before Sunday’s 1 p.m. ET St. Patrick’s Day start.

“Overall it was a really good game,” Brodzinski, who scored the game-winner said. “It’s definitely a grind, especially with these earlier games… It was a good effort by us.”

The Islanders (29-23-15) got two goals from Bo Horvat to keep pace with the Rangers through the majority of the first two periods. But just 1:06 after Horvat’s second tally, Brodzinski put the Blueshirts up for good.

The Islanders have now lost four consecutive games following a six-game win streak that momentarily got them back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Their poor run of form has seen them drop back out of a postseason spot.

“I saw a team that played better than us today,” Islanders head coach Patrick Roy said. “They managed the puck much better than we did, they were very fast on transition. I thought they had more energy than us for some reason.”

They took the lead 14:08 into the game while shorthanded. Brock Nelson forced a turnover behind the Rangers net, cycled around toward the right boards, and sent a cross-ice pass to the left circle for Horvat, who finished from a tough angle into the top-right corner of the goal.

The tally came following a Pierre Engvall holding-the-stick penalty where, after his stick broke while trying to accept a pass deep in the Rangers’ zone, he tried to steal the stick of Blueshirts defenseman Ryan Lindgren. 

“It was an unfortunate PK goal,” Brodzinski said. “It is what it is. Just a lack of concentration for 10 seconds and they put one in the back of the net. It wasn’t necessarily the way we were playing… We just stayed consistent and it was all the way up and down our lineup.”

Zibanejad equalized for the Rangers just 27 seconds into the second period following a turnover by Alex Romanov. Jack Roslovic found the puck and sent it between the dots for Zibanejad, who one-timed it home.

Cuylle put the Rangers ahead with 9:46 to go in the second when he got behind the Islanders’ defense and received a pass from Lindgren at the visitors’ blue line to go in alone on Sorokin. He snapped his wrister under the glove of Islanders netminder. 

Bo Horvat Islanders
New York Islanders’ Bo Horvat, left, reacts after scoring during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the New York Rangers, Sunday, March 17, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Horvat picked up his second to equalize with 6:05 to go in the frame. A shot from the point by Mike Reilly was deflected in front by Nelson into the path of Horvat, who ducked his stick through the legs of Barclay Goodrow of the Rangers to slide the rebound in. 

Just 1:06 later, Brodzinski put the Rangers back in front when he deflected K’Andre Miller’s shot from the left circle through Sorokin’s pads.

“I just stopped at the net,” Brodzinski said. “I was wide-open in the slot and [Miller] comes down and hammers one right into me. Got a small deflection.”

Kakko doubled the Rangers’ lead 2:36 into the third period after taking the puck from a tie-up on the right boards involving Engvall and Erik Gustafsson, meandering into the right circle, and firing a wrister home for his 10th goal of the season.

“We knew that they were going to be hungry and really wanted to take it to us,” Brodzinski said. “So we really wanted to put them away like this. It felt good.”

Lafreniere put the exclamation point on the Rangers’ afternoon when fired another one-timer past Sorokin for his 19th goal of the season, which tied a career-high, midway through the third. 

“They took it to us,” Horvat said. “We definitely didn’t have enough pushback. We did have a couple chances but at this stage of the season, we need to have a lot better push than that if we want to beat those guys.

For more on the Islanders and Rangers, visit AMNY.com