Is­lan­ders rely on youth, come off bye with win

Barzal, Beauvil­lier com­bine for 8 points

The Buffalo News - - NHL -

NEW YORK – Nei­ther the New York Is­lan­ders nor New York Rangers had won a game in reg­u­la­tion since be­fore Christ­mas en­ter­ing Satur­day’s game at Madi­son Square Gar­den. One of them played like they might not do so un­til Ground­hog Day.

Be­hind big games from Mathew Barzal and An­thony Beauvil­lier – 20-year-olds born within two weeks of one an­other in 1997 – the Is­lan­ders blew out the Rangers, 7-2, to fur­ther tighten the play­off pic­ture in the Eastern Con­fer­ence.

The Rangers (22-16-5) have 49 points. The Is­lan­ders (22-18-4) have 48 points.

Both teams had been off since last Sun­day for their mid-sea­son breaks. One looked fresher than the other.

“It’s kind of tough com­ing off a break like that,” the Is­lan­ders’ Cal Clut­ter­buck said. “You never know how you’re go­ing to feel, how you’re go­ing to re­act. We just wanted to come out and keep it sim­ple, play hard.”

That they did, rac­ing to a 5-1 lead early in the sec­ond pe­riod, chas­ing start­ing goal­tender On­drej Pav­elec and draw­ing boos from Rangers fans who watched the Is­lan­ders win for the 10th time in their last 12 vis­its to the Gar­den.

“I was sur­prised,” said Hen­rik Lundqvist, who was sup­posed to have the day off in ad­vance of to­day’s game in Pitts­burgh but in­stead had to re­lieve Pav­elec. “Mostly, I’m just dis­ap­pointed.”

Mostly, the Rangers lamented the many odd-man rushes they yielded, which helped Barzal fin­ish with two goals and three as­sists, Beauvil­lier with two goals and one as­sist and Jor­dan Eberle with four as­sists.

Ac­cord­ing to the NHL, Barzal joined Bryan Trot­tier as the only Is­lan­ders with two five-point games in their rookie sea­sons.

“Not be­ing smart – way too many odd-man looks,” Rangers cap­tain Ryan McDon­agh said of what went wrong. “That’s kind of a byprod­uct. I think the main thing is we want a group in there that’s will­ing to do what­ever it takes to win. Right now, we don’t have enough guys do­ing that.”

The Is­lan­ders ar­rived at the Gar­den banged up, and with a new man, winger Michael Dal Colle in the lineup, then they lost an­other key player when Casey Cizikas left with an up­per-body in­jury. Coach Doug Weight gave an omi­nous early prog­no­sis, say­ing Cizikas likely miss some time.

“We’re go­ing to have to find a way,” Weight said.

Around the rinks

• Ev­geni Malkin scored two goals and as­sisted on two more to lead the Pitts­burgh Penguins to a 4-1 home vic­tory over the Detroit Red Wings. Malkin has scored five goals over the last three games.

• Brad Marc­hand scored the win­ning goal in the fourth round of a shootout, and the Bos­ton Bru­ins con­tin­ued their roll (now 9-03) with a 4-3 win over the host Mon­treal Cana­di­ens.

• Sean Cou­turier re­mained red-hot by scor­ing two goals, in­clud­ing the tiebreak­ing tally late in the sec­ond pe­riod, as the Philadel­phia Fly­ers beat the reel­ing New Jer­sey Devils 5-3 in Ne­wark.

• Matt Dumba scored two goals while Mikael Gran­lund added a goal and an as­sist as the Min­nesota Wild de­feated the Win­nipeg Jets, 4-1, in St. Paul, Minn.

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