The New York Rangers battled back from a three goal deficit tonight against the New York Islanders, but fell short and gave up the winning goal late in the third period. This game started off with quite the bang, and unfortunately, the Rangers found themselves down 3-0 very early in the first period. The Islanders completely controlled the play early in this game, and registered the first ten shots of the period.
As a result, the Islanders completely dominated the Rangers and Johnny Boychuk got on the board at the 2:50 mark to make it a 1-0 game. Josh Bailey did an excellent job of finding Boychuk cutting down the middle of the ice, and Raanta whiffed on the ensuing save attempt. Then within a two minute span, the Islanders added on two more goals coming from Brock Nelson and Kyle Okposo.
The first goal came off of a big rebound generated by Antti Raanta, and Nelson was waiting on the doorstep to slam it home. Right after that, Kyle Okposo deflected in his 17th goal of the season, and the Islanders took complete control within the first five minutes of the game. Thankfully, following the third goal, the Rangers finally woke up and responded with two consecutive goals.
Oscar Lindberg got the Rangers on the board a little over second minutes later, after receiving a nice little pass from Eric Staal. Then 38 seconds later, Tanner Glass deposited the puck into an empty net after the puck took a favorable bounce off of the end boards. At that point, the Rangers officially made this one a game and they started to turn the tides back in their favor.
However, the Islanders wouldn't go away without a fight and Johnny Boychuk restored the Islanders two goal lead a little over a minute later. The scoring parade continued, and shortly after Boychuk's goal, the Rangers clawed right back and made it a 4-3 game. This time around it was Eric Staal, who registered his first goal as a Ranger, and chipped home a loose puck in front of the net.
Following the first period that featured seven total goals, both teams settled in and the Islanders 4-3 lead remained intact heading into the third period. Aside from the first five minutes of the third period, the Rangers controlled a majority of the third period, and it eventually resulted in the tying goal. After Nick Leddy was sent off for interfering with Viktor Stalberg, Derick Brassard wired home the tying goal from the right faceoff circle.
Keith Yandle did an excellent job of creating space for Brassard on the far side, and hit him right on the tape, which allowed him to rip a quick one-timer. Eric Staal was planted in front of the net, and Jaroslav Halak wasn't able to see the puck as it sailed just under his glove hand. The Rangers were clearly energized by the goal, and they continued to push for the go-ahead goal.
Unfortunately, with about a minute and a half remaining, the Rangers gave up the tying goal as a result of a lost faceoff. Derek Stepan wound up losing the draw cleanly to Casey Cizikas, which allowed Cal Clutterbuck to get off a clean shot from the left side of the circle. Being that it all happened within an instant, Raanta was able to react to the shot in time, and the Islaners took a 5-4 lead late in the game.
The Islanders eventually iced the game right after that, as Frans Nielsen scored on the empty net, and made it a 6-4 game. As bad as the Rangers were early on in they game, they responded extremely well, but they fell just shy of taking at least a point. Given the close race in the standings, that was a tough game to throw away, but the Rangers now need to turn their attention to the Buffalo Sabres.