Despite a strong performance tonight by the New York Rangers, two miscues wound up costing and they fell to the New York Islanders by a 2-1 final score. The Rangers were by far the better team through 40 minutes tonight, but Jaroslav Halak was the different maker and kept it a 1-0 game heading into the third period. If the Rangers replicate that kind of performance moving forward, 9 times out of 10 they come away with two points tucked away in their back pocket.
This game is one of those times where the Rangers were the better team and they just couldn't get the job done. It happens. That's how hockey works sometimes. However, it is obviously a complete 180 from earlier in the year, when the Rangers were racking up wins they didn't really deserve. The good news is that the Rangers have strung together some really good games as of late, and it appears as if they are trending back up. Basically, what I am saying is, as frustrating as it is to lose to the Islanders, just remember that it wasn't for a lack of poor play as a whole.
Now moving on to the game, this was your typical Islanders/Rangers game with a continuous action and a ton of great goaltending. Through 20 minutes in this game, both teams remained scoreless while Henrik Lundqvist and Jaroslav Halak were putting on quite the performance. Much of the same carried over to the second period, until the Rangers finally broke the scoreless tie late in the period. It all started with a beautiful breakout from behind the Rangers net, and they transitioned it up ice to gain the offensive zone.
Kevin Hayes caught a little tap pass from Chris Kreider, and whipped a shot towards the net after a spin-o-rama type of move. While the puck was en route, Marc Staal was able to get a stick on the puck and deflected it over the glove of Halak for the 1-0 lead. With the Rangers controlling play up until this point and holding onto a one goal lead, things appeared to be going as planned heading into the third period.
However, over a four minute span, the Islanders were able to score twice and took a 2-1 lead very early on in the third period. Hockey is a funny game sometimes, and all it takes is two horrible mistakes to turn the game around. That is what happened to the Rangers tonight, and despite their strong play, they had nothing to show for it. Following the two goals from the Islanders, the Rangers began their push back and had several chances to bring this game back even.
The Islanders did an excellent job of protecting their lead late in the game, and fell back into a trap to ensure the Rangers had to work for their goal. Halak was able to deny the late chances by the Rangers and paved the way for Kyle Okposo to put the game away with an empty net goal at the 19:58 mark. As much as it sucks, the Rangers can feel good about their game moving forward, and they will have another opportunity against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon.