Georgiev stops 31 shots, Rangers beat Islanders 4-1

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UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Alexandar Georgiev made 31 saves in his first start since March 19, Alexis Lafreniere and Colin Blackwell scored in the second period, and New York Rangers beat the Islanders 4-1 on Friday night.

Mika Zibanejad and K'Andre Miller also scored and Artemi Panarin had two assists for the Rangers.

Andy Greene scored and Semyon Varlamov finished with 32 saves as the Islanders snapped a five-game winning streak and fell to 17-2-2 at home.

The teams meet again on Sunday night at Nassau Coliseum.

Georgiev improved to 7-1-0 in eight starts against the Islanders. He has allowed two goals or fewer in seven of nine career appearances against the Islanders, including one goal or fewer five times. Since his first start against the Islanders on Nov. 21, 2018, Georgiev has more wins against the Islanders than any other NHL goaltender.

The teams played a brisk first period featuring strong saves at both ends. The Rangers held a 13-7 shots advantage over the first 20 minutes. Varlamov stopped former Islander Ryan Strome on the Rangers’ best chance six minutes into the game after Strome accepted a pass from Artemi Panarin but was denied by a sliding Varlamov save.

Zibanejad had a golden opportunity, springing into the Islander zone on a breakaway after leaving the penalty box. But he lost control on the puck with no Islander in sight and failed to get off a shot.

Lafreniere finally opened the scoring with his seventh goal, tapping the puck past Varlamov at 6:05 of the second. Linemates Kaapo Kakko and Filip Chytil drew assists. Are three forwards — starting with the 19-year-old Lafreniere who was the first overall pick in last year’s draft — are 21 years old or younger.

Lafreneiere’s goal ended Varlamov’s shutout streak against the Rangers this season at 146:05. Varlamov registered shutouts in two of the team’s three meetings earlier this season at Madison Square Garden. Georgiev blanked the Islanders in the other game.

Blackwell made it 2-0 with his 12th goal at 10:01 of the second. Blackwell scored his sixth goal in the last seven games.

Greene defenceman narrowed the deficit to 2-1 with his first goal his season at 14:53 of the second. Greene’s slap shot from the point appeared to be deflected by a Rangers player before it eluded Georgiev.

The Islanders outshot the Rangers 16-12 in the second period.

Miller scored an insurance goal at 11:48 of the third, the rookie defenceman's fourth goal of the season.

Zibanejad added an empty netter — his 14th — to complete the scoring at 18:48.

The Islanders fell to 21-3-3 in back-ends of back-to-back games, still the best record of any NHL team in back-ends over the past three seasons.

KINGS OF THE COLISEUM

The Rangers have won their last five games at Nassau Coliseum dating back to Feb. 16, 2015 and eight of nine overall on Long Island. The Rangers are 17-5-1 in their last 23 games at Nassau Coliseum, though they were 1-6-1 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in recent years.

VERY YOUNG RANGERS

The Rangers are the youngest team in the league, with 10 of the 22 players on their active roster 23 years old or younger. Average age on the Rangers’ active roster is 25.2 years old.

STREAKING FOX

Rangers defenceman Adam Fox snapped a 12-game point streak in which he had three goals and 19 assists. It was the third-longest point streak in the NHL this season behind Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton at 14 games and Toronto’s Auston Matthews at 13.

Allan Kreda, The Associated Press