New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders Pick & Prediction APRIL 13th 2024

The New York Rangers and New York Islanders may get together in a first-round playoff series for their first postseason encounter since 1994.

But it might not happen the way the Rangers envisioned, especially if Saturday afternoon’s visit from the Islanders winds up becoming a third straight loss.

The Rangers (53-23-4, 110 points) head into their penultimate game still ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes atop the Metropolitan Division. They held a five-point lead going into Tuesday but thanks to a 4-2 loss at the Islanders that night and Thursday’s lackluster 4-1 loss to the visiting Philadelphia Flyers, the lead could shrink to one point if Carolina wins Friday’s visit to St. Louis Blues.

The Hurricanes finish on the road against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, a day after the Rangers wrap things up against the visiting Ottawa Senators.

After winning eight of nine, the Rangers are coming off consecutive regulation losses for the first time since Jan. 18-20.

The Rangers gave up the first three goals against the Islanders on Tuesday and then allowed three straight goals to the Flyers after Artemi Panarin’s tying power-play tally extended his points streak to 11 games and gave him 117 points, six shy of Jaromir Jagr’s 2005-06 team record.

“We don’t have that cushion anymore,” Rangers captain Jacob Trouba said. “So now, the urgency’s gotta be there these last two games, and play our best hockey and get on the right foot going into the playoffs.”

Whether that urgency includes any retribution against the Islanders for Adam Pelech’s hit on Mika Zibanejad is unknown. New York coach Peter Laviolette was angered by the hit Tuesday but it proved not serious enough to keep Zibanejad from playing Thursday when the Rangers were held to 25 shots on goal.

“We’re fighting for the division right now,” Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren said. “Carolina’s right on our tail, so there’s no time for us to let up.”

If the Rangers wind up finishing second, they will play the third-place team in the Metropolitan. The Islanders (37-27-15, 89 points) are third with three games left thanks to their second six-game winning streak of the season.

The Islanders hold a three-point lead on the Pittsburgh Penguins along with a four-point edge on the Washington Capitals, Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers.

The Islanders have won each game of this streak by two goals or fewer and kept it going by overcoming two one-goal deficits in a 3-2 overtime win against the visiting Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. Casey Cizikas scored the tying goal 6:30 into the third period and Kyle Palmieri won it 77 seconds into overtime, giving the Long Island native goals in four straight games.

“There’s a lot at stake in what we’re trying to achieve in making the playoffs,” Cizikas said. “You can see the way the guys are playing. You can see the way our guys are buying in and doing what they need to do out there.”

The Islanders are in better shape than in their last visit to the Rangers. They took a 5-2 loss on March 17 and were one point out of the second wild-card spot and four games into a six-game losing streak. The Islanders are 7-2-0 in their past nine games since the skid.

Of bigger concern for the Islanders is the availability of defenseman Noah Dobson, who exited about five minutes into Thursday’s game due to an upper-body injury. Dobson’s hit on Vincent Trocheck also annoyed the Rangers but the Islanders did not believe that hit or the one on Zibanejad was intentional.

–Field Level Media

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