Ladd gets go-ahead goal in third, Islanders beat Rangers 3-2
NEW YORK (AP) — After getting off to a slow start, the New York Islanders rallied with a strong third period to get a big win in their playoff push.
Andrew Ladd scored the tiebreaking goal with about 7 1/2 minutes remaining to lift the Islanders to a 3-2 victory over the crosstown-rival Rangers on Wednesday night.
Anders Lee had a goal and an assist, and Nikolay Kulemin also scored for the Islanders, who pulled two points behind Boston for the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot. Anthony Beauvillier had two assists and Thomas Greiss stopped 34 shots.
“We might not have had our best night, we just stuck with it, then found a way,” said Islanders captain John Tavares, who had an assist on Ladd’s winner. “I think that’s what matters most. I think going forward, we just know we have to be a lot better in some areas. We just keep believing. There’s still 10 games to go, and you play 82 for a reason.”
On the tiebreaking goal, the Islanders were on the power play when Tavares fired a shot from the left side that deflected to Lee at the left side of the net. Lee then sent a backhand pass in front to Ladd, who fired it past Raanta for his 20th with 7:22 to go.
Ladd, signed in the offseason, has rebounded nicely after a slow start that saw him total four goals and three assists in his first 32 games. He has 16 goals and five assists in 36 games since.
“It’s always nice to get to that mark,” Ladd said of getting No. 20, “Especially after the start that I had. But at this point, the good feeling is coming away with two points, and on to the next one.”
For the Islanders, the next one is a visit to defending champion Pittsburgh on Friday night before hosting the Bruins the following night.
Mats Zuccarello and Rick Nash scored, and Antti Raanta finished with 25 saves for the Rangers, who remained six points behind Columbus for third place in the Metropolitan Division.
“We played a strong game,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “We had some real good looks. Defensively, we didn’t give up much. We got a little unlucky, I thought, in the third period there as far as bounces on our (penalty kill).”
The Islanders, who beat the Rangers for the third time in four games this season and seven of eight over the last two, won for just the second time in six games (1-3-1). The Islanders also improved to 17-9-4 since interim coach Doug Weight replaced the fired Jack Capuano.
The loss extended the Rangers’ home losing streak to seven games (0-5-2) since beating Washington on Feb. 19.”
“I don’t understand why we can’t seem to get it done on home ice,” Rangers center Derek Stepan said. “We have to find the answer and get it done before the playoffs come around.”
Trailing 2-1 after two periods, the Islanders tied it on a double-deflection at 5:01 of the third. With the Rangers’ Kevin Hayes off for slashing, rookie Josh Ho-Sang sent a puck in front that deflected off Beauvillier’s skate and then Kulemin’s, with the latter getting credit for his 12th.
The Rangers got on the scoreboard first in the second period. With Tavares off for hooking, his second of three penalties in the game, Zuccarello put the Rangers up 1-0 at 2:46 as he took a centering pass from Mika Zibanejad and put it past Greiss for his 15th.
The Islanders tied it 54 seconds later as Beauvillier backhanded a shot from the right side off Raanta’s pad that deflected to Lee on the left side, and Lee knocked it in for his 27th.
Nash put the Rangers back ahead less than three minutes later as he skated in on Greiss while fighting off a defender and lifted the puck up off the goalie’s glove that bounced on the ice and over the line for his 20th at 6:36.
The Rangers outshot the Islanders 11-9 in a scoreless first period that saw both teams have chances.
NOTES: The Islanders scored multiple goals on the power play for the third time this season, the first time on the road. ... Tavares remained one goal from tying Bobby Nystrom (235) for eighth place on the Islanders’ career goal-scoring list. ... Islanders F Ryan Strome left in the second period. The team announced during the second intermission that he would not return due to an upper-body injury. Weight said he didn’t expect to have Strome available for the next two games. ... Nick Holden had an assist on Nash’s second-period goal, giving Rangers defensemen 26 assists and 38 points in the last 20 games.
Islanders: At Pittsburgh on Friday night before returning home the following night to open a stretch of three of four at Barclays Center.
Rangers: At Los Angeles on Saturday night in the opener of a three-game California trip.
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