Rangers sloppy start postpones history in defeat on Long Island

Apr 9, 2024; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Alex Wennberg (91) falls to the ice on a
Apr 9, 2024; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Alex Wennberg (91) falls to the ice on a / Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
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The chaos started early when Mat Barzal got in behind the Rangers' defense on a breakaway with Igor Shesterkin. Adam Fox got back to hook the Islanders' star forward, but the referees awarded Barzal a penalty shot for the hooking infraction. So, Barzal got to go again against Shesterkin. As he came in with speed along the boards to the right of Igor, Shesterkin stayed with him. The Russian would make the stop when Barzal went across the crease and tried to put it back against the brain, and the Rangers survived an early scare.

The Islanders broke the ice when Mike Reilly won the puck along the boards. He walked down towards the net and fired a pass into the middle of the slot for a teammate. Ryan Lindgren tried to break up the pass but could only knock the puck past Shesterkin and into the back of the Ranger's net to give the Isles a lead in this one. It was a difficult start for the Rangers, who were chasing history.

The Islanders would be doubling their lead halfway through the first period when the top line would strike. A neutral zone turnover would let the Islanders gain the zone. Eventually, the Rangers failed to clear the zone as Mat Barzal got the puck to the point. Both Bo Horvat and Casey Cizikas would deflect the shot. Igor would have had a difficult job stopping the first, and the second one ensured he had no chance. The Islanders were in complete control.

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There would be a third goal in the first as the Islanders continued their onslaught. Brock Nelson had a great chance in front but forked it wide. Gathering the rebound, he threw it in front for Kyle Palmieri, who could clean up the change when his linemate initially missed. The Rangers were getting slaughtered; the sloppy performance in the first was letting the Islanders blow the game open early.

The Rangers powerplay would find a way to click in the second to make this a game. The Rangers' excellent puck movement on the man advantage moved the Islanders out of position, so the Blueshirts worked the puck to Artemi Panarin. His shot from the point floated through, and Chris Kreider would get his stick on it from his office to get it past Semyon Varlamov and into the back of the net to open the Rangers scoring.

It would be the powerplay again that would drag the Rangers within one. A faceoff win on the man advantage would send the puck back to Adam Fox at the blue line. With Vincent Trocheck and Chris Kreider sliding through the slot, Varlamov never saw the wrister that Fox let go. It found twine, and after a disastrous 20 minutes in the first period, the Rangers were only down by one.

Anders Lee would be the one to hit the empty net, as the Rangers have to wait for the next game to get another chance at franchise history. With results elsewhere, the Rangers may be able to wrap up the conference and the division when they next take to the ice. But that is a conversation for a different day. A 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Islanders holds off the celebrations.