Rangers Rally Negated In 5-3 Loss To The Islanders

Jim Cerny
BlueshirtsUnited.com

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Friday night at Madison Square Garden there were three power play goals scored, two shorthanded tallies, and one on the penalty shot. However at the end of the night what was missing was a Rangers victory as the Blueshirts dropped a wild 5-3 decision to the Islanders.

The loss dropped the Rangers to 1-4-2 over the first seven games of their nine-game homestand, while the win was only the second in 15 games for the Islanders, who are now 2-9-4 in that stretch.

With the score tied at three apiece early in the third period Dan Girardi took an interference penalty while already shorthanded, giving the Islanders a 5-on-3 power play opportunity. The Islanders quickly took advantage as Thomas Vanek deflected a Kyle Okposo pass over the goal line 1:18 into the final period of play, giving the visitors a 4-3 lead.

The Rangers were given a power play of their own--with the majority of it seeing them skate with a 4-on-3 advantage--at 3:31, but shots blasted wide of the net coupled with a strong effort by the Islanders held the home team off the scoreboard and preserved the precarious one-goal lead for their rivals. The Rangers, who scored two power play goals earlier in the game while also giving up a pair of shorties, again failed on power plays with 6:22 to play in regulation and again with 2:52 remaining to finish 2-for-7 on the night.

Michael Grabner's second goal of the game, into the empty net with 50.9 seconds left in the third period, iced the win for the visitors.

For the sixth consecutive game the Rangers surrendered the game's first goal on Friday night; and it was also the sixth straight game they faced a two-goal deficit at some point in the contest. However how the Rangers arrived at a 2-0 deficit in the first period Friday was unique to say the least.

Awarded a power play at 14:23, the Rangers almost immediately turned the puck over sending Cal Clutterbuck on a breakaway against Henrik Lundqvist. Ryan McDonagh chased Clutterbuck from behind and seemed to lift his stick before the Islanders forward could take a shot, but the referee determined that McDonagh had interfered with Clutterbuck enough that a penalty shot was called for. Despite Alain Vigneault's loud protest from the Rangers bench, Clutterbuck not only received the penalty shot, but scored as well, giving the Islanders a 1-0 lead.

Then later in the first period the Rangers again lost the puck, giving the visitors another shorthanded breakaway. This time Grabner beat Lundqvist cleanly for his first goal since opening night--a span of 32 games---and the Rangers trailed 2-0 on a pair of shorthanded goals with 2:51 left to play in the opening stanza.

Perhaps the biggest goal of the night---except for the Islanders' game-winner---was scored just thirty seconds after Grabner's tally. Benoit Pouliot answered back for the Rangers on the same power play, and the Blueshirts were able to reach the first intermission trailing by only one as opposed to a pair. 

Stationed at the lower edge of the right circle Pouliot one-timed Chris Kreider's pass past Evgeni Nabokov for his fourth goal of the season, and second in as many games this year against the Islanders. Heating up recently, Pouliot now has five points in his last seven games.

The Rangers tied the game three minutes into the second period when Derek Dorsett---a sparkplug playing on the top of his game all night long---scored his third of the season. With Brian Boyle battling Isles defenseman Thomas Hickey in front, Dorsett received a pass from Dominic Moore and whipped a right-circle shot towards the cage which struck Hickey and deflected past Nabokov, tying the game 2-2.

Several minutes later Dorsett drove hard to the net and drew a cross-checking penalty on Clutterbuck, and the Rangers took advantage by scoring their second power play goal of the game to grab their first lead at 7:58 of the second period. Derek Stepan zipped a quick shot into the net off a Rick Nash feed for his seventh goal of the season---six of which have come at The Garden---and the Blueshirts had scored three in a row to claim a 3-2 lead.

Howvever it took the Islanders less than four minutes to pull even. Brian Strait scored his first National Hockey League goal off a slap shot that ticked off Lundqvist's glove at 11:26, just six seconds after a penalty to Anton Stralman had elapsed. The score remained tied into the third period before Vanek scored eventual game-winner.

After a day off Saturday, the Rangers will play their final two games of this homestand Sunday and Monday nights hosting the Minnesota Wild and then the Toronto Maple Leafs.