Scott Mayfield, almost bizarrely, looked upset at the call after he was whistled for cross-checking at 15:07 of the final period on Thursday night.
It was the sixth penalty of the evening for the Islanders, and it turned into the fatal blow when Kaapo Kakko scored just six seconds after its expiration for the game-winner in an eventual 5-3 Rangers victory. It was Mayfield’s second time in the penalty box, and the replay showed that he had indeed cross-checked Jimmy Vesey by any reasonable interpretation of the rulebook.
Holding the Rangers to 1-for-6 on the power play couldn’t have been a win for the Islanders. But it turned into a pyrrhic victory as Kakko met K’Andre Miller’s feed on the doorstep of the Islanders’ net. Spending a total of 10:58 killing penalties was no way to try and compete with the Rangers in any case.
“I don’t know how many shots they got on their power play, but when you look at the shot clock for the game, I’m sure a decent chunk of them came from that or after power plays when they had us hemmed in,” Matt Martin said. “They were able to get the winning goal in that situation as well. Power plays are 6-2 in a hockey game, it’s kinda tough to have an even shot clock.”
Indeed, the Rangers finished the night nearly doubling up the Islanders in shots on net, 34-18. It didn’t help that the Islanders were missing two of their best penalty killers: Cal Clutterbuck, out with an upper-body injury, and Casey Cizikas, who left the game in the second period. Mayfield and Alexander Romanov, who also play regularly on the penalty kill, were responsible for four of the six penalties.
“Too many penalties,” coach Lane Lambert said. “Gotta stay out of the box against a team like that that has a good power play, so we just put ourselves in a hole that way.”
Lambert did not give an update on Cizikas, who left the ice at 6:14 of the second period and did not return to the bench.
Adam Pelech and Clutterbuck have yet to start skating as they deal with upper-body injuries. Kyle Palmieri missed a third straight game with an upper-body injury, but has resumed skating. Lambert would not say whether there is a chance of Palmieri playing on Friday.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau played his 600th career game, becoming the ninth active Islander to reach that mark.
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