There was a quickened pace and higher intensity on the ice and more energy from the mixed, sellout crowd of 17,255 at UBS Arena, all traits common to the heated Islanders-Rangers’ rivalry.
The Islanders won this chapter, 3-0, in a highly entertaining contest on Wednesday night, snapping their three-game losing streak while extending the Rangers’ to four (0-2-2).
“Those games are fun to play,” Islanders coach Lane Lambert said. “They’re energetic. It was a good game for us to have at this point, to have an emotional game like that.”
Kyle Palmieri scored his first two goals of the season for the Islanders (3-4-0), Josh Bailey scored his first and Ilya Sorokin stopped 41 shots for his team’s first shutout.
“It was pretty much what we expected,” said Bailey, who played in his 999th NHL game, all with the Islanders. “I think we’re spoiled when we get these games. The atmosphere is incredible. They’re games you just love being a part of and it makes it all the more sweeter when you find a way to get a win.”
Former Islander Jaroslav Halak made 26 saves for the Rangers (3-3-2), who were blanked for the first time.
But Wednesday night’s contest marked the only time these long-standing New York rivals will play in the regular season at UBS Arena.
“Yeah, I mean, it really is,” Islanders center Mathew Barzal said. “I wish there was a couple more. I feel like it should be almost automatic having something like this a couple of times a year. Good for the game of hockey. Good for New York sports.”
The Islanders play the Rangers twice at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 8 and Dec. 22, meaning the regular-season series between these rivals is over by Christmas.
The Islanders killed off two power plays to start the second period and another in the third period — they are 25-for-25 this season — and took a 1-0 lead at 8:44 of the second period as Palmieri snapped a shot past Halak from the slot.
Bailey made it 2-0 at 5:37 of the third period, circling to the right post to deflect defenseman Adam Pelech’s shot. Palmieri, again from the slot, extended the Islanders’ lead to 3-0 at 15:22 of the third period.
“For us, it was just getting in on the forecheck,” said Palmieri, who didn’t score the first of his 15 goals last season until the 13th game. “We were able to turn some pucks over and to play a little faster and that resulted in a couple more opportunities.”
The game’s pace was set on breakneck from the opening faceoff, even with the Rangers coming off Tuesday night’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Avalanche with an 8 p.m. faceoff.
The Islanders generated offensive-zone time in the first period but rarely made Halak work hard for his saves. Per Natural Stat Trick, the Rangers had seven high-danger chances over the opening 20 minutes skating five-on-five to the Islanders’ none.
Two were obvious. Sorokin had to stretch his right pad to deny call-up Julien Gauthier’s backhander at the crease at 2:06 after he had skated around defenseman Sebastian Aho. And at 14:24, Sorokin somehow reached back with his arm to stop Kaapo Kakko’s in-tight shot.
Notes & quotes: The Islanders placed former first-round pick Kieffer Bellows on waivers. He can be reassigned to their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport if he clears. The Islanders may be looking to create a roster spot for a seventh defenseman before traveling to face the Hurricanes on Friday night . . . Anthony Beauvillier took a team-high five shots after being a healthy scratch in Sunday’s 3-2 road loss to the Panthers.