The preseason is officially in the past.
The New York Islanders dropped their preseason finale on Saturday night, falling 5-4 to the New York Rangers in overtime at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport.
Anders Lee and Mathew Barzal each had three-point games (2G, 1A), but the Islanders lost a track meet with the Rangers, who were lifted by Filip Chytil's hat-trick, which included the OT winner at 2:06 of the extra frame.
The Islanders finish the exhibition slate with a 3-0-2 record and get going for real on Thursday night in Raleigh in their season opener against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Video: NYI Recap: Barzal, Lee score twice in 5-4 OT loss
Barry Trotz said Saturday's preseason lineup would feature about 98% of the Islanders opening night roster, so the preseason contest offered a look at what's to come.
As expected, Kyle Palmieri skated with Anders Lee and Mathew Barzal on the top line, while Oliver Wahlstrom skated with JG Pageau and Zach Parise. Zdeno Chara and Noah Dobson were paired together, as were Andy Greene and Scott Mayfield.
Ross Johnston, who played in all five preseason games, skated in Matt Martin's place with Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas, though Trotz said that's Martin's spot when the winger recovers from offseason ankle surgery. Semyon Varlamov is the other Islanders regular who did not play during the preseason, but will have a roster spot as soon as he's available.
With the Islanders icing a nearly-complete squad, the name of Saturday's game was to give the veterans a proper tune-up, get in some work on special teams, while also getting out of the game intact. Islanders fans held their collective breath in the second period, when Mayfield blocked a K'Andre Miller shot, skated gingerly to the bench and sat out a shift. Thankfully for the Islanders, it only appeared to be a stinger, as Mayfield returned to the game.
Of note, Oliver Wahlstrom was Trotz's choice to join the play as the extra attacker late in the third and Ryan Pulock was the defenseman used to start overtime with Brock Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier, a position previously held by Nick Leddy.
Regardless, Saturday was a good look at what's likely to come for the Islanders when the season opens on Thursday in Raleigh.
Video: NYR 5 vs NYI 4 (OT): Anders Lee
ISLES DROP PRESEASON FINALE:
True to form, the Islanders were the NHL's stingiest team heading into Saturday's preseason finale, giving up four goals over games, including a pair of shutouts.
That was not the case on Saturday, with the Islanders conceding five goals to the Rangers, who were also playing without Artemi Panarin or Mika Zibanejad. Three of the Rangers five goals came on the power play, ending the Islanders streak of going 14/14 through the first four contests.
While Trotz and co. would have preferred a win to close out the exhibition season, the Islanders coach felt that a little adversity - plus some chippiness from the crosstown rivals - was good for his team.
"It was good for us," Trotz said. "I thought we didn't have enough guys engaged. Some of our guys cruised through that one, which a lot of the time happens in that last game, they're just trying to get to the regular season. It wasn't one of our best efforts, but we found a way to get it tied up, which is good for us. They got us three times on the penalty kill. The Rangers played quick, played hard and that was good for us."
Overall, Trotz said he's not worried, citing his team's veteran experience and maturity.
Video: NYR@NYI: Lee rockets slap shot home to open scoring
LEE READY TO ROCK:
Anders Lee looks ready to rock for the regular season.
The Islanders captain had three points (2G, 1A) on Saturday night to lead the team. Lee opened the scoring at 3:03 of the contest, beating Alexandar Georgiev with a slapshot off the rush to open the scoring in the first period. He briefly tied the score 3-3 with a power-play goal in the third period, posting up in his office to tap-in a centering feed from Kyle Palmieri.
Lee, who Trotz called a "beast" on Saturday has looked like his usual self through the preseason, which is an encouraging sign for the Islanders captain, who is returning from a torn ACL has season. Lee also picked up the secondary assist on Mat Barzal's goal in the third period, to finish with four points (3G, 1A) in two tune-up contests.
"I thought the last game, he got his feet wet and did his thing. I thought tonight he looked a lot more comfortable," Barzal said of Lee. "That's nice to see. It's more nice to see for the boys that he's back doing he's thing, that he's strong and healthy."
Video: NYR@NYI: Barzal scores second goal to tie game late
BARZAL BRINGS IT AGAIN:
Like Lee, Mat Barzal appears to be in fine form entering the regular season.
Barzal had a three-point game on Saturday night, also burying two goals while dishing out an assist. Barzal tied the score twice for the Islanders, deflecting a Noah Dobson shot past Georgiev to make it 2-2 early in the third and netting the tying goal - 4-4 - with 50.3 seconds to play in the third.
Barzal also took the penalty that eventually sealed the Islanders fate in overtime, but overall the Islanders center looked dynamic during the preseason slate. The 24-year-old center finished the preseason with a team-high tying five points (2G, 3A) in three games and has rekindled his chemistry with Lee.
Video: NYR 5 vs NYI 4 (OT): Barry Trotz
GREENE MAKES DEBUT:
Andy Greene made his preseason debut on Saturday night, skating on a pairing with Scott Mayfield.
The 38-year-old defenseman said the single preseason game was the fewest he'd played since entering the league, though that's partially due to circumstance, as he was slated to play in Thursday's cancelled game in New Jersey.
Greene assisted on Lee's first period goal, skating the puck into the zone before delivering a drop pass. Trotz said the veteran defenseman looked composed on Saturday night.
"I thought he was as composed as anybody out there today, which is a good sign," Trotz said.
The regular season starts on Thursday in Raleigh. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.