Islanders didn’t look over familiar problem in preseason loss

It’s only one game, and only one preseason game at that, but it was a rough Monday night for the Islanders at Madison Square Garden.

The Islanders didn’t seem to have their legs under them as the Rangers skated in circles around the arena and goaltender Semyon Varlamov gave up four goals on 20 shots before being replaced in the second period by Jakub Skarek in a planned switch. The 4-1 loss looked at times like a continuation of the Islanders at their worst last year, when the speed of other teams was simply too much for them.

On a night where just under half the roster was made up of AHL players, and given that the Rangers spent their training camp conducting scrimmages while the Islanders focused elsewhere, it’s hard to make anything of it. But in Lane Lambert’s first game behind the bench, it would have been ideal to see more from the Islanders, particularly on the back end, where they struggled to control the puck, let alone break it out of the zone.

The Islanders’ Mathew Barzal chases the puck against the Rangers on Monday.
Jason Szenes

“Haven’t played for a while, pace was a lot quicker, obviously,” Lambert said. “We weren’t expecting anything perfect, that’s for sure.”

As for Varlamov, Lambert cited poor puck luck in the goaltender’s rough night. In the Islanders’ locker room, Varlamov admitted to being dissatisfied with his play.

“Physically I felt good, but at the same time, feeling a little rusty,” he said. “First game, what can I say, I gave up four goals. I’m not very happy about it, of course. Some moments I can play better, but it is what it is.”

Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller reacts after he scores a goal late in the first period.
Jason Szenes

Robin Salo scored the Islanders’ only goal of the night with a point shot past Dylan Garand at 16:10 of the second period as Ross Johnston and Andy Andreoff picked up assists. Salo also led the Isles in shots on net with five.

Reece Newkirk and Brock Nelson both scored at even strength during two periods in the first scrimmage action of training camp on Monday afternoon. Jimmy Lambert added an empty-net goal with the White team beating Blue, 3-0.

Samuel Bolduc was held out of activities for the Islanders on Monday for undisclosed reasons.

Richard Panik, who is not at training camp, is being reassigned with a decision still to come on where to.