In a battle between the New York teams, the Rangers proved they were the superior team in the Big Apple. Something has changed in this Rangers squad and it is working well. Following this 5-3 win over the Islanders, the Rangers have now won eight of their last nine. They are going into the Christmas break with a firm hold on the first wild card spot and they will get the chance to push their lead when they come back to play.
The Rangers’ powerplay was nothing special in this one, only going 1/6 in this game against the Islanders. While the Islanders’ penalty kill is good, there is something concerning about the way the man advantage had its issues in this game. It didn’t turn out to be a problem, but going less than 20% in a game on the powerplay is a little concerning. Hopefully, this is corrected over the Christmas break and they can score for fun when they come back.
This was the final meeting between the two teams during this regular season and despite the Islanders winning the first two clashes between these two franchises, the Rangers managed to get the last laugh. While the Isles did outscore the Rangers 10-8 during the season, these two teams had some close games. It does go to show that hockey in New York is in a good position for these two rivals moving forward.
Julien Gauthier earned the first star of the game with an assist to go with a goal that you are going to see on every highlight reel in the league for a few weeks. Gauthier has all the tools to do this more often. However, he’s struggled to put it all together. Seeing him do this more often is a great sign for the Rangers moving forward. He’s not viewed as one of the young guns of the group that could change this roster, so scoring depth like him could be huge for the postseason.
As mentioned, the Rangers are firmly in the first wild card spot after this win. They are level on points with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who lost in overtime to the Carolina Hurricanes. New York is 5 points back of the Carolina Hurricanes with two more games played. New York’s next game will be on the 27th when the Washington Capitals come to town, so we will get to see if the holiday break will affect how the team is playing.