The first meeting between the New York Rangers and New York Islanders certainly didn't disappoint, as the Rangers came away victorious after a late surge in the third period. This game was just packed full of back and forth action, aggressive forechecking, and all around skill.
Cam Talbot also picked up his second win in three games, and has been making his mark with the big club. When Martin Biron called it quits, there was a sense within the organization that this guy would come to play, and boy has he ever. Just looking at the way way he plays, you'd never know Talbot only has three career NHL games under his belt. He plays like a true veteran.
But anyways, on to the actual game. After killing off a mid-period penalty from a Carl Hagelin slashing call, the Rangers would go to a power play of their own. Just as Hagelin's penalty was about to expire, Kyle Okposo tangled up with Taylor Pyatt along the boards, and received two minutes for hooking. The Rangers power play, which has been operating very well this season, would convert just a minute after.
Chris Kreider, who was planted right in front of Evgeni Nabokov, wound up picking up a rebound from Brad Richards, and shoveled it into the net. Kreider has been playing some excellent hockey since his recall, and you could tell that sooner or later things would start to break his way. Major props to Brad Richards on the play as well, as he waited until Kreider was set up in front, and fired a low hard shot to create the rebound.
From the second period on, the Rangers really started to outwork the Islanders in all three zones, but were snake bitten with some unfortunate bounces. Just three minutes into the second period, Marc Staal made an attempt to keep the puck in the offensive zone. The puck wound up taking a strange bounce, and hopped right over his stick which led Cal Clutterbuck on a partial breakaway.
Clutterbuck eventually snapped the puck over the shoulder of Cam Talbot with a laser of a wrist shot, and the game was tied. It's just one of those goals were you shake it off, and go right back to work. There was nothing Staal could do because nine times out of ten, that's a play anyone would make. As if their lucky didn't already bite them in the behind, the Islanders struck once again late in the second period.
After a broken play following a point shot, Travis Hamonic tossed a shot on net which wound up going off of Peter Regin's visor, and in behind Cam Talbot. Dan Girardi was right at the top of the crease to clear the puck, but couldn't get a good enough handle on the puck, and wound up knocking it into his own net. Again, another busted play that winds up with the puck in the back of the Rangers net.
Many people were all over Girardi for the play, but there's nothing he could have done different. The puck was bouncing, and he attempted to keep the puck from crossing the goal line. Also, emember how we spoke about Talbot playing like a true veteran? Right after the goal he said a few words to Girardi, gave him a tap on the shin pads, and told him to shake it off.
It was just a great sight to see, and it was even better when the Rangers came back out in the third period wanting to make a statement. Speaking of the third period, the Rangers didn't generate nearly as many chances as they did in the prior periods, but they made them count. The Islanders wound up taking an undisciplined too many men penalty, and gave the Rangers an early advantage to tie up the game.
Derek Stepan wound up bobbling a cross-ice feed shortly into the power play, but recovered it, and set up Ryan McDonagh for a bomb from the point. With Kreider planted right in front of Nabokov, McDonagh ripped a low slap shot that found it's way through the five-hole, and the Coliseum erupted.
The Rangers didn't quit there though. With about seven minutes remaining in regulation, Carl Hagelin and Benoit Pouliot came flying through the neutral zone, and wound up give the Rangers a 3-2 lead. Right when Pouliot hit the blue line, he made a sweet little drop pass to Hagelin which wound up confusing the Islanders defenseman. Pouliot shot right to the middle of the ice, and Hagelin hit him with a beautiful seam pass, and capped it off with an absolute snipe.
Carl Hagelin's return definitely didn't go unnoticed, and his play on the last Rangers goal was simply amazing. They definitely missed his quickness up front, and it's finally nice to have him back. The Rangers were able to kill off the remaining six minutes, and eventually came away with two points in the standings.
After tonight, the Rangers find themselves three points out of second place in the Metropolitan Division, with the Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, and Anaheim Ducks on hand next. The next four games will be played at Madison Square Garden, and the Rangers will have a chance to jump right back into the thick of the standings.
Like we've been saying all season, there is still a lot of hockey left to be played, and the Rangers look as if they're finally find their groove.