The New York Rangers came close tonight, but with the way things have been going this season, it just wasn’t enough in the end. Part of the reason why was because the Rangers only decided to show up for the final 20 minutes of the game, so they were playing catch-up for most of the game.
While the Rangers weren’t scored on during the first minute of play, it did come a short time later with the Islanders going on an early power play opportunity courtesy of Chris Kreider. Ryan Pulock wound up sending a shot on net that was intended to be a pass and the puck rebounded out to the high slot after a kick save by Henrik Lundqvist. Unfortunately, Brendan Smith was forced into covering two players, and Anders Lee slammed home the wide open rebound to make it a 1-0 game for the Islanders.
The Rangers did find a way to respond almost immediately, though, with David Desharnais picking up his second goal in as many games. Kevin Shattenkirk was credited with the primary assist after a great effort from the point to get the shot through traffic and on net. That recent surge of momentum was short lived once again, as the Islanders struck back just as quickly as the Rangers did.
Michael Grabner’s failed clear attempt along the side boards resulted in a chance for the Islanders and they took full advantage. Defensive coverage was an absolute mess following the turnover which allowed Brock Nelson to get a quick snap shot off in the high slot. The shot beat Lundqvist over the shoulder through the traffic in front and the Islanders regained the one goal lead at the 6:06 mark of the period.
The second Islander goal would be the final throughout the first 20 minutes with the Rangers looking to respond with a better second period. To follow the same trend as of late, the Rangers came out absolutely flat during the second period and the Islanders were able to score another early goal (shocker!).
Matthew Barzal somehow slipped the puck through Lundqvist from a ridiculous angle and was credited with his first career NHL goal. The coverage itself was decent on the rush, Lundqvist just simply needed to stop the puck with Barzal having absolutely zero angle for a high percentage scoring chance. It took the Rangers several minutes to get back into the game, and they were able to generate to prime scoring chances coming from Rick Nash and Kevin Shattenkirk.
Both chances could have easily lifted the Rangers right back into the game but instead they resulted in more frustration. Following the two chances, the Islanders came back down the ice immediately and pressure the Rangers for at least a minute straight. Henrik Lundqvist was forced to scramble around his crease but somehow came up with several big stops to keep the Islanders within two goals.
The Rangers did pick up their play during the second half of the period, but Jaroslav Halak kept them at bay with a couple of key saves in close. During the third period, however, the Rangers finally came alive. Mats Zuccarello brought the Rangers back within a goal at the 3:29 mark and Kevin Hayes found the equalizer with just under six minutes remaining in the game.
The Rangers did score a third goal before Hayes eventually tied the game, but it was waived off due to Brendan Smith kicking the puck into the net. The call was a tricky one because Smith did actually kick the puck in on the first attempt, but it also redirected off of his other skate before rolling into the net. I’m not entirely sure of the rule on a situation like that, but the NHL ruled that the initial kick caused the second deflection so it was ruled no goal in the end.
And so we went to overtime. Neither team wound up scoring before the end of the overtime, but the Rangers did have several odd-man opportunities that went unanswered. The Islanders had a late power play opportunity, but a few last second saves by Henrik Lundqvist sent this game to the shootout.
Mats Zuccarello opened the shootout with a nifty move that trickled over the goal line, but unfortunately, the Islanders followed up with a pair of their own. Jordan Eberle and John Tavares scored for the Islanders, which left the final chance up to David Desharnais. Halak didn’t fall for the fake that Desharnais threw his way and stopped the shot to give the Islanders a 4-3 victory.
While the Rangers responded well late in the game, they started their attack 40 minutes too late. After falling to 1-5-2 on the season, the Rangers will welcome in the Nashville Predators this coming Saturday afternoon.