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Isle End That Streak

For the second time in a week, the New York Rangers and New York Islanders met at Madison Square Garden. The last time these two faced off, it resulted in a 4-1 victory for the Blueshirts, and the beginning of a three game winning streak. For the Isles, it was the 3rd loss in what turned out to be a five game losing streak. John Tavares and company made sure last Thursday’s night ending wasn’t repeated in a Valentine’s Day edition of the New York hockey rivalry.

Just like the previous three games, the Rangers lit the lamp first. Carl Hagelin’s forechecking behind the net led to a Rick Nash set up on a Dan Girardi one-timer to give the Rangers the early 1-0 lead at 3:36 of the 1st. It would be the defenseman’s first goal of the season. About eight minutes later, Marian Gaborik followed up a Brad Richards rebound to extend the lead to 2-0. But just as the Rangers came out of the gate strong, the Islanders started the 2nd period with renewed life. Colin McDonald scored his 2nd goal of the season, just 29 seconds in to the frame, to cut the lead to 1. Six minutes later, Tavares potted his 8th goal of the season to tie the game. It only took the Islanders another 40 seconds to take the lead on a Brad Boyes goal. The Islander lead would be short-lived though, as Hagelin would stuff the puck by Evgeni Nabokov on the power play. The amount of traffic in front caused uncertainty and a review, but it would ultimately be ruled a goal.

Carl Hagelin
Carl Hagelin was a consistently strong performer throughout the 4-3 OT loss to the Islanders.
(Scott Levy – Getty Images)

The pace of the game slowed down in the 3rd period. Both Evgeni Nabokov (36 saves) & Martin Biron (28 saves) played well between the pipes to keep the game knotted at 3. It would be more of the same in overtime, with both goalies making excellent saves on quality scoring opportunities. The game moved on to a shootout. Frans Nielsen and John Tavares would each find the net, while Marian Gaborik & Rick Nash came up empty. The loss ends a three-game winning streak for the Rangers, but they’ve still managed a point in four straight games. The win snaps an eight game losing streak at MSG for the Isles.

After three games where the Rangers looked like the team all the pre-season prognosticators expected them to be, they reverted back to old form. Before that mini-winning streak, the Blueshirts couldn’t put a full game together. That was the problem again tonight. They looked strong in the 1st period, but they let the Islanders jump them early in the 2nd period. The Rangers power play has been their main problem this season (9.1% – good enough for 29th in the league, only Colorado is worse), but there seems to be a lack of a killer instinct with this team. Getting a point is always good. But coming in to this game, the Rangers had back to back games, at home, against the two worst teams in the East. They fumbled an opportunity to put away the Islanders early and get a 2nd point in the first of those games. On Sunday, they’ll host the Washington Capitals. Despite a really bad start to the year, the Caps have won three in a row, averaging five goals in the three victories.

Isle End That Streak
Islanders Center John Tavares celebrates his 2nd period goal to tie the game at 2.
(Scott Levy – Getty Images)

Plus – Carl Hagelin – Hags had a rough start to the year, but he’s found his way as of late. The former Michigan Wolverine went the entire month of January without producing a point. February has been much kinder to him with five goals and three assists in six games.

Minus – Brad Richards – After seeing about 13 minutes of ice time in the 1st two periods, Richards only saw one shift for the entire 3rd period. Maybe Head Coach John Tortorella is trying to send the message that he needs to get going on the power play. While the two goals and 7 assists on the year is solid, Richards has one assist with the man-advantage.

Adam Bernard
I'm a seasoned veteran in the sports media field and a lifelong Rangers fan (hoping to relive 1994 at some point - I couldn't fully appreciate a championship at 11 years old). Hockey dominates my life for the most part: I also root for the Blackhawks & Kings, I've been lucky enough to split season tickets for the Blueshirts with a good friend since the lockout, and I'm a defenseman on a local roller hockey team. Away from the rink, I enjoy hiking, hard rock music, and spending time with my dog Astro.
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