Rangers slam Isles as teams keep heading in opposite directions

Chris Kreider and Kevin Rooney each scored twice Wednesday night for the surging New York Rangers, who cruised to a 4-1 win over the free-falling New York Islanders in the first game between the rivals at the Islanders’ new home, UBS Arena in Elmont, N.Y.

Goalie Igor Shesterkin made 20 saves for the Rangers, who have won six of seven (6-1-0).

Andy Andreoff, one of the many reinforcements called upon with the Islanders missing 10 players due to injuries and COVID-19, scored his first goal in almost four years for the hosts, who have lost seven straight games, all in regulation — the franchise’s longest regulation losing streak since the 2010-11 squad dropped eight straight in regulation.

Isles goalie Semyon Varlamov recorded 17 saves.

After a scoreless first period, a hooking call on Mathew Barzal six seconds into the middle period led to the Rangers’ first goal a mere 23 seconds later. Ryan Strome, who played his first four NHL seasons with the Islanders, passed from the top of the right faceoff circle to Kreider, who put his stick down and deflected the puck under Varlamov’s glove.

The Rangers doubled their lead about 12 minutes later following a steal in the neutral zone by Barclay Goodrow, who stole the puck from Otto Koivula and exchanged passes with Ryan Reaves. Varlamov deflected a shot by Goodrow, but Rooney leaned his stick into the crease and poked home the rebound with 5:32 left.

The Islanders briefly cut the deficit in half 3:52 into the third, when Andreoff recorded his first NHL goal since Feb. 19, 2018 by redirecting Koivula’s shot. But the Rangers extended their lead back to two goals just 20 seconds later, when Rooney took a pass from Reaves and beat Varlamov with a shot into the wide-open right corner of the net.

Kaapo Kakko, surrounded by three Islanders, managed to get his stick on a loose puck along the boards deep in the hosts’ zone to set up a sequence that ended with Kreider sending a shot past Varlamov for the Rangers’ insurance goal with 8:58 left.

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