It was typical Islander hockey where the goal is to score one more than the other. On Wednesday, the New York Islanders beat their rivals, from two counties over, the New York Rangers 2-1 in a close hard-fought battle from Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
The Islanders started Semyon Varlamov who made 19 saves through two periods of play. Igor Shesterkin allowed one goal on seven shots through 29:15 of play. The lone goal he allowed was to Anthony Beauvillier who made a “CHEL”-like move before spinning and sniping on Shesterkin.
Henrik Lundqvist took over the net from that point on, allowing one goal, the game winner, to Islander defensemen Devon Toews who sent it to the toy department. Thomas Greiss replaced Varlamov for the third period, allowing a goal, just 47 seconds after Toews scored, to Chytil.
Neither team scored a power play goal. The Islanders went 0-for-5 on the power play while the Rangers were 0-for-3 with the extra man.
For much of the night, it seemed like the Islanders were dictating the game, but most of their shots failed to hit the net. The Rangers outshot the Islanders 27-22 in this one, and at one point in the first period, held an 8-1 shots on goal advantage.
Mathew Barzal probably played the best game of his career, effectively the best two-way forward of the night.
Back together for the first time since December 19 was the Martin – Cizikas – Clutterbuck line. Head Coach Barry Trotz usually starts games with that line, but did not do so on Wednesday night.
Trotz went with 12 forwards and eight defensemen on Wednesday night and said there is realistically a chance he goes with 11 forwards and seven defensemen for the first game against Florida on Saturday.
The Islanders’ defensive pairings looked like this, as expected:
Pelech – Pulock
Leddy – Boychuk
Toews – Mayfield
Greene – Dobson
The Islanders dressed Ross Johnston over playoff veterans Leo Komarov, Tom Kuhnhackl and Andrew Ladd. Johnston began on a line with J.G. Pageau, but would occasionally be seen with Barzal joining on that line throughout the game.
The win was credited to Thomas Greiss. The loss was credited to Henrik Lundqvist. Anthony Beauvillier continues to average one point per game against the New York Rangers.
Including this exhibition game, the Islanders are now 24-8-5 on the season when scoring first, including 7-2-1 in their last 10 games when scoring the first goal.
In all seven games between the Islanders and Rangers, beginning with the 2019-20 preseason back in September, the team that scored the second goal would win the game in downtown Toronto. The Islanders have scored the first goal against the Rangers in five of their last six regular season meetings, including Wednesday night’s exhibition game, dating back to the 2018-19 regular season.
Wednesday night’s win over the Rangers was the first Islander win away from New York since February 10 in Washington, D.C., also an NBCSN telecast.