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Rangers vs. Islanders Recap: Islanders down Rangers 4-1

The New York Rangers still can't find a way to top the New York Islanders this season, and were defeated by a score of 4-1 on Long Island.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Islanders have had the New York Rangers' number all season long, and tonight was no different, except the final score didn't tell the whole story this time around. Aside from an atrocious first period, the Rangers were actually the better team for a majority of this game. Jaroslav Halak pretty much stole the show in between the pipes, and gave the Rangers fits all night long.

After controlling most of the first period, the Islanders finally broke through at 18:05 on a beautiful passing play that was finished off by Mikhail Grabovski in front. Johnny Boychuk and Josh Bailey pretty much lit the Rangers up by playing catch coming into the zone, and Bailey found Grabovski wide open for the easy tap in. The Rangers really didn't help themselves at all in the first period, as this game could have easily been out of hand with the amount of pucks they were coughing up in their own end.

While the Rangers were much better in the second period, one bad bounce and they found themselves down by a pair of goals. Just four minutes into the period, Matt Martin capitalized on a very favorable bounce off to the side of the net, and tapped it into the empty net. The Rangers had a huge opportunity to jump back into the game late in the period, after Cal Clutterbuck took an undisciplined offensive zone penalty.

Unfortunately, though, the Rangers had a hard time getting their initial shots through, and even when they did, there was no one there to pick up the rebound. With 20 minutes left to play, the Rangers still found themselves in a pretty deep hole with time slowly running out on them. All throughout the third period, the Rangers were the better team, but once again, a horrible bounce fell in favor of the Islanders.

Just six minutes into the final frame, Ryan Strome came away with his ninth goal of the year after having the puck deflect off of Ryan McDonagh and into the net. McDonagh had a perfect read on the 2-on-1, but the puck took a strange bounce and deflected back on Lundqvist, and he wasn't able to recover. That goal pretty much sealed the deal for the Islanders, but a late 5-on-3 advantage gave them another opportunity to pile it on.

John Tavares wound up converting about a minute into the man-advantage, and gave the Islanders a 4-0 lead heading into the closing minutes. After the Rangers struggled to finish all night long, Carl Hagelin finally broke the shutout streak with 8 seconds remaining to cut the lead to 4-1.

Although it was another disappointing loss to a hated rival, the biggest positive to take away from this game was the Rangers actually played a pretty very well. The scoreboard may not show it at the end of the night, but they controlled the play for two of the three periods in tonight's game. It wasn't a result of poor effort, but rather a combination of a bad start, a hot goaltender, and a couple of bad bounces that swayed the scale.

At the end of the day, you just chalk this one up and shift focus to the Montreal Canadiens coming up this Thursday at Madison Square Garden.