Rick Nash's third period goal served as the game winner in the final regular season meeting ever between the two teams at Nassau Coliseum. Another sold out crowd witnessed an entertaining 60 minute affair between the rival clubs and witnessed a come from behind victory for the visiting Rangers.
Anders Lee gave the Islanders the 1-0 lead in a good first period for the Islanders, but the Rangers evened the score up in the second off of an impressive goal by Kevin Hayes. Nash then caught a break when a shot at the net redirected off the skate of Ryan Strome and past Jaroslav Halak.
"It was going to the corner and then all of a sudden it ended up being in the net," Halak said about the Nash goal. "So obviously it was a lucky bounce and then we just couldn't score. We just couldn't get any bounces our way tonight, so that was the difference."
The Islanders ended the game outshooting the Rangers 30-22, but could not find an equalizer after the visitors jumped ahead. The home club was the better team in the first period -- outshooting the Rangers 13- 7 and putting pressure on starter Cam Talbot -- but the Blueshirts battled back in the second and third by taking advantage of an Islander team that was coming off a game the night before.
However, it wasn't as though the Rangers rolled over the Islanders.
"I thought we played a good game," Casey Cizikas said afterwards. "We were moving our feet, we were getting pucks in deep and [Cam Talbot] stood on his head. Jaro played an excellent game for us, he gave us a chance to win, but we just couldn't find the back of the net."
Tuesday night's matchup was different than the 6-5 game the two teams played back in February. The shots were much less and in the end it came down to two breaks that the Rangers got, and the Islanders didn't.
The Rangers' victory closes out the rivalry in the building the same way it began. The Blueshirts defeated the Islanders by the same 2-1 score in their first visit to Nassau Coliseum back on October 21, 1972. Hayes appreciated the chance to be part of history again as the rivalry's run in Uniondale (potentially) came to an end.
"It was an electric atmosphere," he said. "It was awesome to be part of these last two games here. It's just exciting."
There is a real possibility the Islanders and Rangers could meet one another in the playoffs. It is something that Lee seems to enjoy the prospect of.
"I think it would be awesome," Lee said when the idea of facing the Rangers in the postseason came up. "It was a great game tonight and we match up well on both sides. They've been close."