Rangers' Special Teams Falter in 4-2 Loss In Brooklyn
In arguably the most intense game of the Rangers' season, the team wasn't able to get the job done. After digging themselves a 2-0 hole going into the first intermission, they were unable to complete another comeback and fell to the New York Islanders by a final score of 4-2.
The New York Rangers headed into Brooklyn with aspirations of building some momentum on top of their Saturday afternoon victory against the Carolina Hurricanes, but were unable do so as they fell to the New York Islanders by a margin of 4-2. After falling behind early in the first period, the Rangers were unable mount a successful comeback despite constant pressure in the Islanders zone for the duration of the match
The Rangers had ample opportunity to break the ice during the opening frame, but Halak was able to keep the puck out of the net with an outstanding first period performance. The Islanders started the night sloppy and carefree, which led to a too many men penalty against them just 2:45 into the first, and gave the Rangers a chance to seize momentum. However, the Blueshirts were unable to convert on the ensuing powerplay, and found themselves trailing a couple of minutes later when Scott Mayfield beat Henrik Lundqvist for his second NHL goal to put the Islanders ahead with 12:57 to play in the period.
Despite giving up the opening goal, the Rangers did not buckle at that point, and continued to trade chances with the Islanders until Matt Puempel caught a high stick from Brock Nelson, which resulted in a four minute double minor against the Isles with 6:43 left. Although the Rangers smelled blood in water, Jaroslav Halak had other ideas. The Islanders netminder turned aside ten shots on the penalty kill before Nelson emerged from the box and fired a puck towards goal that bounced off noted Ranger killer Jason Chimera and behind Lundqvist to double the Islanders lead. From there, the teams were content to head to the locker room as the game currently stood, and the first period concluded with the Rangers in a 2-0 hole.
After emerging from the locker room to begin the second period, the Rangers continued to pepper Halak with shots, and finally broke through less than a minute into play. Rick Nash rifled a shot on goal and Jimmy Vesey followed the rebound and buried it past Halak to cut the deficit in half just 56 ticks into the frame. However, the Islanders would regain their two goal lead almost immediately, as Andrew Ladd took advantage of a rare miscue from Henrik Lundqvist and make it a 3-1 game with 17:48 remaining in the period.
With the knowledge that a three goal deficit would likely end any hopes of coming back to earn two points, the Rangers went back to work and were able to cut the Islanders' lead to 3-2 with 11:06 to go in the second. As the team rushed up the ice to spring a scoring chance on the counter attack, Marc Staal was the beneficiary of a dazzling display of puck distribution by the Rangers forwards, and rang a shot off the inside post to beat Halak and shrink the Islanders lead to one.
Staal's goal would mark the end of the goal scoring for the second period, but the teams would continue their physical, back-and-forth play as the clock winded down. A fourth powerplay chance for the Rangers didn't result in much, as Halak and the Islanders' penalty kill continued their stellar play and kept the Rangers off the board once again. As the buzzer sounded to send the teams back to the locker rooms for the second intermission, there was a palpable sense of emotion in the air, as everyone knew that the two teams would rest up between periods before leaving everything they had on the ice before the game was over.
As the teams hit the ice for the third period, somebody was going to prevail in what had become more of a battle of wills than a hockey game. The Islanders had a golden opportunity to all but end the Rangers hopes of a comeback after J.T. Miller hooked John Tavares early in the frame to put the Islanders on their first powerplay of the night. However, the team's 30th ranked unit reared it's ugly head, and the Rangers survived the first penalty kill of the night unscathed. The teams would find themselves in a similar situation just after the halfway mark, but this time the Islanders made the Rangers pay as Tavares beat Henrik Lundqvist to give his team a 4-2 lead with 8:43 remaining in the game.
The Rangers struggled to generate chances for the rest of the night, and would go quietly into the night despite pulling Lundqvist for an extra attacker and getting a 5th powerplay chance with a shade under a minute and a half, and even being awarded a 6th chance with 31 seconds remaining. The team failed on both opportunities, and mercifully ended an abysmal night on special teams when the final horn sounded.
With their loss, the Rangers have extended their streak of non-consecutive results dating back November 12th-15th. The team will have to shake off this loss and get ready to face the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre on Thursday night to try and get back on the right track.