Josh Bailey scored with 1:26 remaining to lift the Islanders over the Rangers 4-3 on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
Cal Clutterbuck found Bailey cutting to the back post, and he beat Henrik Lundqvist to help the Islanders improve to 13-2-0 in the last 15 meetings between the Big Apple rivals.
Matt Barzal had a goal and two assists, and Robin Lehner made 27 saves. Jordan Eberle and Anders Lee also scored for the Islanders, and Johnny Boychuk had two assists.
Ryan Strome, Kevin Shattenkirk and Jesper Fast scored for the Rangers, who dropped their fifth straight to open 2019. Lundqvist stopped 16 shots.
“I was really proud of the way we played. To come out in the third period and play with the pace and energy we played says an awful lot about our character,” Rangers head coach David Quinn said. “But character is not getting us wins right now.”
Fast tied it 3-3 midway through the third period by knocking the puck out of the air and past Lehner. That came after Lee put the Islanders ahead 3-2 by redirecting Nick Leddy’s slap shot on the power play early in the second period.
Former Islander Strome opened the scoring 1:38 into the game with a power-play goal, but Barzal answered just 53 seconds later with a nifty deke past Lundqvist. The speedy forward has been terrific against the Rangers, recording 14 points in seven games. Barzal will represent the Islanders at All-Star weekend in San Jose.
Eberle made it 2-1 five minutes later after mishandling a puck but recovering to snap a wrist shot by Lundqvist.
“We played really well, we put ourselves in a really good spot to win the game, I don’t know what to say,” Lundqvist said. “You look at the goals and break it down, there’s things that happened we just have to clean up to win games. One shot I didn’t stop that in the third and that’s the difference.”