Josh Bailey broke a 3-3 tie with 1:26 to play in the third period, as the New York Islanders beat the New York Rangers 4-3 on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
Bailey's go-ahead goal was the Islanders first - and only - shot of the third period, but the opportunistic Isles made it count. The one shot - set up by a slick cross-ice feed from Cal Clutterbuck - was enough to secure two points and help the Isles to their seventh win in eight games.
"It obviously wasn't our best period, but it's about finding ways to win," Bailey said. "Just because you're not playing your best doesn't mean the game has to be thrown away. We know if we stick with it here we might be able to find a way."
Mathew Barzal had a game-high three points (1G, 2A), while Jordan Eberle and Anders Lee each scored power-play goals. Robin Lehner (27 saves) picked up a career-high eighth straight win.
Video: NYI@NYR: Barzal takes advantage of line change
Mathew Barzal continued his mastery over the New York Rangers.
Barzal recorded three points (1G, 2A) on Thursday night upping his career totals to 14 points (4G, 10A) in seven games against the Blueshirts.
It was Barzal who evened the score 1-1 after Ryan Strome gave the Rangers an early lead 1:38 into the game. Barzal answered quickly, opening up Henrik Lundqvist on a partial breakaway before sliding home his 13th of the season at 2:31.
Barzal picked up two more points before the night was done, recording the secondary assist on both Eberle's goal to make it 2-1 in the first and on Lee's deflection to make it 3-2 in the second.
"He played the right way. He had the puck all night and lots of legs and all that," Trotz said. "His line was really good. You look at the scoresheet, you could see his line and linemates, that's where all the points are."
Video: NYI@NYR: Eberle beats Lundqvist on the power play
SPECIAL TEAMS KEY WIN:
Barry Trotz credited his special teams with the win on Thursday night, as the Isles rode their power play and a key penalty kill to the victory over the Rangers.
After struggling to produce in the previous four games, the Islanders power play scored on their first two opportunities Thursday, ultimately finishing the night 2-for-3. The first two power plays looked crisp, with the Isles moving the puck well around the zone while creating traffic in front.
Eberle scored his ninth of the season to put the Isles up 2-1 in the first period, snapping a cross-ice feed past Henrik Lundqvist at 8:51, while Lee deflected a Nick Leddy point shot at 3:08 of the second.
The Islanders penalty kill may have given up an early goal, but held the fort during a critical juncture in the third period. With Adam Pelech and Leo Komarov in the box, the Isles shorthanded unit killed off the Rangers' two-man advantage, holding the Blueshirts without a shot.
"To me we won the game on special teams," Trotz said. "We won it on the power play and a huge penalty kill five-on-three when the game was on the line. Robin played well for us and we found a way in the third period."
Video: NYI@NYR: Bailey puts Islanders ahead late in 3rd
ONE SHOT, ONE GOAL IN THE THIRD:
The Islanders were outshot 17-1 in the third period of Thursday's win, but despite jokes about a perfect 1.000 shooting percentage, the Isles acknowledged it was not a sustainable way to win.
"It was pretty ugly on our part. We all know that. Our coaches know that," Barzal said. "But hey, Clutter [Cal Clutterbuck] makes a good play there to Bails [Josh Bailey] and we have an opportunistic team."
The Isles relied a lot on Lehner, who stopped 16 of 17 shots in a busy final frame. The lone shot to beat the Isles goaltender was a fluky play where Jesper Fast whacked a puck out of the air, off the ice and up high.
"With them travelling a lot lately, we should have had that push in the third and it felt like we couldn't get out of our zone, so we definitely have to tune some things up," Lehner said. "Obviously it wasn't a good game from us and we need to play better, but still, to squeeze out a win in this building-we have to take some positives away from that."
Video: NYI@NYR: Lehner makes glove save, sprawls for rebound
JOHNSTON IN, DAL COLLE OUT:
Ross Johnston drew back into the lineup for Michael Dal Colle, playing his first game since Dec. 28. Trotz said he wanted Johnston in the lineup, as he anticipated some rough stuff from the Rangers, though it wound up being Matt Martin who dropped the gloves with Cody McLeod.
The teams reconvene on Saturday afternoon at Barclays Center. Puck drop is at 1 p.m.