Rangers Win: The Islanders Provide Relief from the Blueshirts Blues
Thursday, February 23, 2017
By Stan Fischler
Not that the Rangers were panicking but, three straight losses before returning to the Garden on Sunday night was not the Blueshirt Plate Special that John Tortorella would have ordered.
Which is why he wanted his skaters to feast on the wounded Islanders, big-time – or even small-time -- as long as his lads emerged with two points for a confidence-booster.
They got their deuce but it had to go into overtime and a power play before putting the visitors away 4-3 on Marian Gaborik’s wrister with 5.8 seconds left in the extra session.
“We’ve been struggling on the power play,” said Gaborik. “It was huge to come up with a couple of goals. We needed this win. We knew we had to come back.”
The Isles forced overtime despite being outshot almost 2 to 1 (36-19). Before his team was penalized in OT, Frans Nielsen nearly won it for the Isles when his slap shot was stopped by Henrik Lundqvist. This eventually led to Travis Hamonic’s questionable tripping penalty at 2:56.
“Henrik came up big for us late in the third and certainly that save in overtime,” said Tortorella.
The overtime penalty seemed close to being killed by the Nassaumen until Gaborik rifled home the winner. Hamonic, who disagreed with the call silently in the dressing room, clearly was more vocal before leaving the ice, earning himself a misconduct after the game had concluded.
For a change of pace – revving up the speed – the Rangers promoted Mats Zuccarello from Hartford for work on the power play and assorted duties, as the coach deemed necessary.
“Mats was doing things we had not seen him doing before,” added Tortorella.
The newest Ranger recall didn’t assist on the Blueshirts’ first period power plays but Lundqvist and defenseman Anton Stralman did, setting up Brad Richards who was allowed to drift too far over the visitor’s blueline.
“I’ve been feeling better,” Richards said. “I’ve got to stay with the fact that I think I’m getting better. And tonight I got rewarded.”
From that position, he was able to drill a screened shot past defenseman Hamonic and behind Evgeni Nabokov.
That tied the count at one after one, preceded by John Tavares’ 28th goal on a rebound off P.A. Parenteau’s original shot.
After half a period of essentially feeling each other out the teams got into the fray, which included a spirited fight between Micheal Haley and Stu Bickel.
The Rangers’ late first period rally set the stage for a back and forth middle period with the visitors having the last word -- and goal.
Matt Moulson’s power play counter – Rangers were hit for four minutes on a Derek Stepan high stick – put the Isles ahead by one but the Rangers second straight man advantage red light knotted it at two. It was Richards once more on yet another screened drive.
Late in the period the ice seemed tilted in the Rangers favor with Andrew MacDonald in the box for holding, but a clearing attempt landed on MacDonald’s stick and he beat Lundqvist cleanly from 12 feet out.
As an added fillip, a lively scrum erupted at the second period’s final buzzer when Brandon Prust and Nabokov exchanged pleasantries behind the net with the Isles leading 3-2.
Once again the Isles simply could not preserve their third period advantage and Brian Boyle tied the count while Nabby was screened yet again.
“We were pretty poised and confident. Richie and Gabby did a good job turning it around tonight,” added Boyle.
Islanders’ coach Jack Capuano lamented the fact that his normally efficient penalty killers failed the club, while Torts spoke enthusiastically about Richards.
“If Richie gets going on all cylinders,” concluded the coach, “it’s gonna make a huge difference.”
Hockey Coverage: Rangers | Islanders
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