The Islanders had stolen two points 24 hours earlier. This time they got the result they deserved.
"We found a way the other night; tonight we didn’t," Josh Bailey said. "I don’t think anyone would say that’s what we expect of ourselves. We certainly strive for more."
The Islanders lost for just the second time in regulation on home ice, falling to the Rangers, 4-1, on Friday night before a sellout crowd of 1,400 at Nassau Coliseum. That dropped them into a tie with the Capitals for the East Division lead at 26-11-4.
Failed puck battles, hitting a few crossbars or posts, some defensive lapses and some turnovers led to the Islanders having their four-game winning streak snapped. The teams also will play Sunday night to conclude the Islanders’ six-game homestand.
The Islanders blew a two-goal first-period lead but beat the Flyers, 3-2, in a five-round shootout on Thursday night in the debuts of Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac after Wednesday’s trade from the Devils.
But the two games did not alarm coach Barry Trotz.
"I thought we had a pretty good start and then we had a little bit of a sag and then we got it back," Trotz said. "Hit a couple of posts. They were able to jump on some of our mistakes. They made more plays than we did."
"We were playing pretty well after we got down 2-nothing. We just couldn’t get the second one," said defenseman Andy Greene, whose shot from the left point through traffic at 14:53 of the second period cut the Rangers’ lead to 2-1 and was his first regular-season goal as an Islander since being acquired before last season’s trade deadline.
Semyon Varlamov stopped 32 shots after shutting out the Rangers twice in his first two starts against them. The teams, which will play each other four more times through May 1, had not met since Varlamov’s 30-save effort in a 2-0 win at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 8.
Varlamov’s shutout streak against the Rangers ended at 146:05 as he was the victim of stationary play by his teammates.
Varlamov’s attempted clear around the boards was cut off and he made two saves off the turnover before Alexis Lafreniere, at the left post, finally poked it in for a 1-0 lead at 6:05 of the second period. Defenseman Noah Dobson was turned toward the crease rather than trying to defend Lafreniere.
It became 2-0 at 10:01. Artemi Panarin was given too much skating space against a sagging Islanders defense and Colin Blackwell knocked in his feed to the crease as the puck dropped between defenseman Ryan Pulock’s skates.
"Little things throughout the game can add up," Bailey said.
Varlamov then could not track defenseman K’Andre Miller’s one-timer from atop the circles as the Rangers took a 3-1 lead at 11:48 of the third period. Mika Zibanejad added an empty-netter with 1:12 remaining.
The Islanders — who were 0-for-3 on the power play against the Flyers, including a failed five-minute man advantage in the first period — could not get a shot on Alexandar Georgiev (31 saves) after Zibanejad boarded Jean-Gabriel Pageau at 10:56 of the first period for the game’s only penalty.
Trotz shuffled his power-play personnel, moving Anthony Beauvillier to Nick Leddy’s unit with Nelson, Pageau and Bailey and moving Palmieri to Mathew Barzal’s unit with Ryan Pulock, Jordan Eberle and Matt Martin.
"We need our special teams to be a difference," Trotz said. "At least be a threat. We just tried to give it a different look because we haven’t been effective."