Kyle Palmieri of the Islanders celebrates his third-period goal against the Rangers...

Kyle Palmieri of the Islanders celebrates his third-period goal against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

That was a fun way to spend St. Patrick's Day - for Islanders fans, anyway. 

The Rangers and Islanders got together on Thursday for only the second time this sea­son, and the Islanders were fully healthy this time. 

The Rangers, bolstered by their new trade acquisition, Frank Vatrano, and the fans at Madison Square Garden were treated to a fast-paced game that ended with the Is­landers riding the hot goal­tending of Ilya Sorokin to a thrilling 2-1 victory. Sorokin made 29 saves. Igor Shesterkin made 26 saves for the Rangers. 

Kyle Palmieri deflected a shot from Ryan Pulock past Shesterkin with 2:44 remain­ing to break a 1-1 tie and give the Islanders their fifth win in the last seven games (5-1-1). The victory also lifted the Islanders above NHL .500 at 25-24-9. 

The Islanders remain 19 points out of the nearest playoff spot, but they still are a good team, Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. 

"You know, the Islanders are in the position they are, but we all know they're a real good hockey team," he said. "They had a tough 2 ½ months to start the season, with their in­juries and COVID and every­thing, and they got hit real hard. So we know they're a good hockey team and a very talented team." 

Gallant and his players con­soled themselves by saying they were pleased with their effort, even if it didn't lead to a victory. 

"There's not a whole lot to say - it's a good hockey game, it's a 2-1 game," Rangers de­fenseman Jacob Trouba said. "I'll take the effort we had tonight. We don't like the re­sult, but I'll take that over ... some of the wins we've had this year, with the game we played. I think there's a lot we can take from this game." 

"We played great. From start to finish, I thought we played a great hockey game," Gallant said. "It's disappointing to lose 2-1, but you play like that most nights, you'll get success." 

One of Sorokin's most memorable saves was the one he made on Artemi Panarin in the first period. He stretched over to extend his goal stick and prevent Panarin's shot from going into an open net, keeping the Rangers off the board. 

Sorokin's save denied Va­trano what would have been his first assist as a Ranger. "You've got to tip your hat to him," Vatrano said. "That's a big turning point in the game. It's a big save, especially early on like that." 

The Islanders opened the scoring 49 seconds into the second period with a power-play goal by Anders Lee, who beat Shesterkin high on the glove side from the slot one second before a penalty to Bar­clay Goodrow expired. It ex­tended Lee's goal-scoring streak to six games.

The Rangers tied it with a power-play goal of their own. Chris Kreider scored his 40th goal of the season - and league-best 21st power­play goal - beating Sorokin with a shot off the rush to make it 1-1 at 13:38 of the pe­riod. 

From there, the score re­mained tied until Pulock flipped a shot that appeared to deflect off Mika Zibanejad's stick and drop down to the ice. Palmieri, uncovered in front of the net, managed to deflect it past Shesterkin for the game­winner. 

Just before the goal, Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren ap­peared to take an elbow to the chin from Islanders forward Oliver Wahlstrom that was not called a penalty. 

Gallant, who rarely calls out officials, didn't blame them this time, either, saying he was more upset with a couple penalties that were called against the Rangers earlier in the game than he was with that non-call. 

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