They might have downplayed it, might have said all the right things about looking forward and staying focused, but it was utterly clear on Friday night in the visitors’ dressing room at the Garden, the Islanders were bathing in what was a rare and delightful feeling for them.

They had just beaten the muddied Rangers, 5-3, and by somehow avoiding all of the evil obstacles that have hounded them over the past six weeks, earned their first regulation win since Nov. 12.

“We’ve lost some heartbreakers, no doubt about it,” said coach Jack Capuano, whose team had gone 2-10-4 in that intervening 16-game stretch, putting it well buried in the basement of the putrid Metropolitan Division, where they still reside at 10-19-7. “But for them to come into this building, on this stage — yeah, it’s a big win for us, no question. This is a tough building to play and they have a very solid hockey team.”

Well, that is certainly debatable, as the Rangers (16-18-2) are now 1-4-2 on their nine-game homestand, and are doing all they can to define themselves as underachievers.

But to the Islanders, they might as well have been the 1978 Canadiens, as Thomas Vanek’s deflection early in the third period while on a five-on-three man-advantage gave them a win that right now seems like a monumental accomplishment.