Two nights after a bad road loss, the New York Islanders bounced back with a key home win against one of their biggest rivals.
Andrew Ladd scored twice to lead the Islanders to a 4-2 victory over the Rangers on Thursday night. Anders Lee and Nikolay Kulemin also scored, and Thomas Greiss stopped 25 shots to help the Islanders improve to 8-0-2 in their last 10 at home.
"It was a huge game for us," Lee said. "A good response from our last outing."
The Islanders were coming off a 7-1 loss at Toronto on Tuesday night when they had a chance to move past the Maple Leafs into a playoff spot.
John Tavares had two assists for his 12th multipoint game of the season, helping the Islanders move back within a point of Toronto for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.
When asked if this was the Islanders' biggest win of the season, interim coach Doug Weight didn't hesitate to agree.
"Our place in the standings would be an obvious (reason)," he said. "Crucial bounce-back. ... If you don't have a deep effort against the New York Rangers, you're not going to beat them. They're too good. They're deep. ... They've got a solid team."
The Islanders, who swept the four games between the teams a year ago, beat the Rangers for the second time in three meetings this season. The Rangers have also lost all four matchups at Barclays Center since the Islanders moved to Brooklyn before last season.
"We just had a hard time making plays in their end tonight," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "You've got to give the opposition credit, they played a good game. We seem to be having issues in this building right now."
Nick Holden and Jimmy Vesey scored for the Rangers, whose season-high six-game winning streak was snapped. Henrik Lundqvist finished with 19 saves.
Ladd had an empty-netter for his 14th with 1:10 left, and then nearly got another in the final minute when he hit a goalpost.
The Rangers went on a four-minute power play on a high-sticking double-minor on the Islanders' Josh Bailey in the closing seconds of the second period. However, the Islanders extended their lead to 3-1 with a short-handed goal at 3:03 of the third. Tavares and Kulemin were attacking in the offensive zone and had several chances in front. Tavares then got the puck behind the net and passed it to Kulemin in front, and he put it past Lundqvist for his 10th.
"It was right there, and he kept hacking and whacking and the puck was bouncing," Lundqvist said. "When it went behind (the net), I thought we had it covered. ... We didn't sort it out and it cost us."
Vesey pulled the Rangers back within one 43 seconds later — with seconds left on the power play — when he knocked in a rebound of a shot by Brady Skjei for his 14th. Weight challenged for goalie interference because the Rangers' Rick Nash fell into Greiss before Vesey knocked it in, but the goal stood after a review.
The Rangers, who lead the NHL with 19 road wins, lost for just the second time in their last 10 away from home.
Trailing 1-0 after one period, the Islanders took the lead with two goals less than 4 minutes apart in the second.
The tying score came after some slick passing as Tavares sent it from the right corner to Bailey in the right circle. Bailey then quickly sent it across the front of the crease to Lee, who settled the puck, turned and put it into the open left side of the net for his 22nd at 2:43.
Stephen Gionta then knocked the Rangers' Marc Staal off the puck behind the net and sent a pass in front to Ladd, who poked it in past Lundqvist from the right side at 6:24.
Holden got the Rangers on the scoreboard in the first period just 8 seconds after his hooking penalty expired with his ninth at 6:23 on the Rangers' first shot on goal.
NOTES: Rangers D Kevin Klein missed the game due to flu-like symptoms. He was replaced in the lineup by Adam Clendening. Vigneault also put LW Matt Puempel in place of fellow rookie Pavel Buchnevich. ... The Rangers won at home 5-3 in the teams' season opener and the Islanders won 4-2 in Brooklyn on Dec. 6. The teams conclude the season series March 22 at Madison Square Garden. ... The Islanders play 18 of their last 26 games on the road, where they are just 7-12-4. "We have a lot of road games and a crappy road record. ... We've got to get better on the road," Weight said. "We haven't played horribly, but we're not getting the results." ... Injured Islanders D Travis Hamonic and RW Cal Clutterbuck both skated Thursday morning, but neither is ready to return.
Rangers: Host Eastern Conference-leading Washington on Sunday.
Islanders: At New Jersey on Saturday night to start a two-night, home-and-home set with the Devils.
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