Despite only grabbing a single point out of this game, the New York Rangers played probably their best game of the season tonight at the Barclay's Center. The Rangers definitely deserved better fate after handing the Islanders their lunch during the first half of the game, but that's hockey. Not to mention, this game was essentially a coin toss as soon as the shootout kicked off after 65 minutes.
The Rangers can use this game to build off of moving forward, and if they keep playing the way they did tonight, the wins will start piling up pretty quickly. Their zone exits were much smoother, they created extended shifts in the offensive zone, and they were just better overall than they have been the last few games. As much as it hurts to say this, Tanner Glass also had the best game of his career in the a Rangers uniform.
Many of us were questioning the move prior to the game, and there wasn't a whole lot to complain about regarding his game. In fact, the trio of Glass, J.T. Miller and Oscar Lindberg were easily the best line for the Rangers tonight, and they spent a majority of their playing time in the offensive zone. Henrik Lundqvist was also spectacular as usual, and aside from being beat on a beautiful move by John Tavares, he was rock solid when things got rocky late in the first period.
After a dominating start to the game for the Rangers, they were unable to take advantage of their opportunities, and held a 13-6 advantage in shots after one period. It was much of the same to start the second period, but the tides eventually turned after the Rangers took two consecutive penalties. That resulted in an extended 5-on-3 for the Islanders, and they took full advantage.
John Tavares was able to create some space for himself coming out of the corner, and ripped a quick wrist shot from just inside the hash marks. With a ton of traffic piled up in front, Henrik Lundqvist was unable to get a read on the puck, and it flew past him to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead. Following the goal, the Rangers went right back to work in the offensive zone, and eventually found a tying goal late in the period.
Viktor Stalberg did some excellent work in front of the net after a point shot from Marc Staal, and he was able to free himself up at the top of the crease. The rebound wound up popping right out to him, and after a quick swat at the puck, he was able to slip the puck in between the legs of Jaroslav Halak. In terms of momentum, that goal was huge for the Rangers heading into the third period.
Unfortunately, nothing was doing in the third period goal wise, and this game would have to be decided in extra time. After a failed 4-on-3 power play opportunity midway through the overtime period, the Rangers had to do a bit of defending after the Islanders came surging back with over a minute left. Thanks largely in part to a huge save by Lundqvist, the Rangers were able to escape the period still deadlocked at 1-1, and on to the shootout we went.
After 65 minutes of back and forth, entertaining hockey, the shootout was an absolute buzzkill and would be the finals step in deciding a winner. Kyle Okposo started it all off with a slick move to his forehand, and gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead in round one. The next four shooters weren't able to find much of anything, and that left game on Dan Boyle's stick in the third and final round. Boyle made an excellent move after coming in slow, but the puck slipped off his stick on the move to the backhand, and that sealed a 2-1 win for the Islanders.
It was an unfortunate way to lose the game, but the Rangers shouldn't hang their heads even if they got the short end of the stick. They played extremely well all throughout the game, and they can build on this game tomorrow night when they host the Colorado Avalanche at Madison Square Garden.