Andrew Copp #18 of the Rangers celebrates his first goal of...

Andrew Copp #18 of the Rangers celebrates his first goal of the first period against the Islanders at UBS Arena on Thursday, Apr. 21, 2022 in Elmont. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Ever since they clinched a playoff spot April 9, the Rangers’ focus has been to continue to play well and get ready for the playoffs. Part of that entails making sure everyone is at the top of their game when the postseason begins May 2, but part of it, too, is making sure everyone is healthy for Game 1.

So Thursday’s 6-3 win over the rival Islanders was a mixed bag for the Blueshirts, who clinched home ice for the first round of the playoffs, while also holding onto a share of first place in the division with the Carolina Hurricanes.

But Andrew Copp, who scored a first-period natural hat trick, left with eight minutes to go with what the Rangers said afterward was a lower-body injury. And third-line center Filip Chytil also left midway through the third because he was “sore,’’ according to coach Gerard Gallant. Chytil said he was cross-checked in the first period.

Other than the injuries, the Rangers looked like a team that is ready for the playoffs. Artemi Panarin assisted on all three of Copp’s goals and had four assists, giving him 96 points this season (eighth-best in the NHL), one more than his previous career high. He has 74 assists which is second-best in the league.

Adam Fox had three assists and became the fourth Ranger to reach the 70-point plateau (he has 72). Chris Kreider netted goal No. 51 and Ryan Strome No. 20. For Strome, it was the first time he has scored 20 goals in a season.

“You don’t really want to set personal accomplishments and goals, but I have had 17, 18 and 19, so nice to finally get [20],’’ said Strome, a former Islanders first-round pick. “Obviously, everything started here with this [Islanders] organization, and seems like it’s come full circle.’’

But Strome preferred to talk about the Rangers’ team accomplishments. The victory was their fourth in a row and seventh in their last eight games, and lifted their record to 51-21-6. Their 108 points have them tied with Carolina with four games remaining for each team, including one against each other Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

“Like I’ve said all year, I think our team would give back all these things personally for the way our team is playing and where we’re at as a team,’’ he said. “So, a good night, and we’ve got to keep rolling before the playoffs.’’

Copp scored his first goal at 3:43 of the first, trailing the play and one-timing a pretty backhand pass from Panarin past Semyon Varlamov from the top of the right circle. His second goal, a shot from below the right circle, on a pinpoint pass by Panarin through a maze of bodies, made it 2-0 at 7:48. His third goal, which made it 3-0, came off a give-and-go return pass from Strome, but it was Panarin who started the play by carrying the puck into the zone and taking a hit from Brock Nelson as he backhanded a feed to Copp to start a two-on-one with Strome.

Copp became the third Ranger to have a first-period hat trick, the last coming on Dec. 26, 1986, from Kelly Kisio. He became the second Ranger to have a natural hat trick — three straight goals — completed in the first period, after Don Raleigh was the first to do it, on Feb. 25, 1948.

The first of Nelson’s two goals, 37 seconds into the second period to make it 3-1, ended the Rangers’ shutout streak. They entered with three straight shutouts, and went 200 minutes and 43 seconds between goals allowed. 

Rangers backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev made 26 saves and won his seventh straight start to improve to 14-9-2 this season. Igor Shesterkin, one of the frontrunners for the Vezina Trophy, is 36-11-4.

Kreider scored on the power play at 17:15 of the second to make it 4-1. Strome’s goal made it 5-1 before the period was over.

Nelson scored on a power play to make it 5-2 at 2:06 of the third period, but Ryan Reaves finished a 3-on-1 break to make it 6-2 at 12:53. Josh Bailey scored 29 seconds later to make it 6-3.

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