Barzal scores with 2:20 left as Isles take preseason finale 4-2 over young Blueshirts


It was a wild third period. For a game that didn’t mean a whole lot for either side, the action was fast and furious. There were a lot of hits dished out. Some dirty ones including a cheap shot from Cal Clutterbuck on Brendan Lemieux, who also took a cross check from Matt Martin post whistle.

In the final tuneup before they pare down their roster to 23, the younger Blueshirts gave a very good account of themselves in a competitive 4-2 loss to the Isles at Bridgeport.

The difference was a goal from Islanders number one center Mat Barzal, who took perfect Ryan Pulock feed and buried a one-timer past Alexandar Georgiev with 2:20 remaining. Jordan Eberle got the play started as the top line caught the Rangers fourth line out during a extended shift.

Prior to Barzal’s game-winner, Tony DeAngelo tied the game at two thanks to a quick backhand pass from former Hurricane Greg McKegg. His quick wrist shot beat Thomas Greiss. Prior to the goal, both Clutterbuck and Martin were running around like chickens by making a bee line for primary target Lemieux. He was at his agitating best throughout, drawing a penalty in the game. Lemieux let a flying Martin bounce off him. Play continued with DeAngelo sniping to tie it up.

Afterwards, you had the intensity of a NHL game between bitter rivals. Given that they went without their top two lines and top three defensemen, the Rangers have to be happy with how the kids played. A few vets also made their presence known including McKegg and Brendan Smith. Both of who had strong showings. McKegg looks like a lock for the final roster. As for Smith, the jury remains out. He sure played hard on the fourth line. He’ll likely get shuttled back and forth.

Despite allowing three goals on 25 shots, Georgiev was superb. He made several big saves and looks like the same steady backup, who can supplant Henrik Lundqvist to keep him fresh. His positioning was very good.

The only concern is Vitali Kravtsov, who looked to sustain a right arm injury on a freakish collision with Casey Cizikas. There were only 23 seconds left following Adam Pelech’s empty netter. Both were in pain on the bench.

However, Kravtsov looked okay at the end staying on the bench while Cizikas was bent over on the Isles bench. Hopefully, it’s nothing serious for Kravtsov, who made a case to stay. Ultimately, it’s up to the organization.

Quick Update on Kravtsov:

Sounds like he should be okay. That’s very good news.

Filip Chytil had a better third period following more struggles. He absorbed some tough checks to make good plays in the offensive zone. Is it too late? We’ll know soon enough.

That’s gonna do it. I’ll hop on Periscope for a bit later to discuss more on the game, the Isles’ cheap tactics, and the potential 23-man Rangers roster.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of New York administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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