Islanders 4: Rangers 5
Despite their history of winning ways at MSG and the Rangers' three-game losing streak, the Islanders have had one of their own for a while- a nine-game road losing streak coming into last night's game on Broadway. Not only that, but they skated onto the ice without one of the keys to their success: goaltender Rick DiPietro, who actually is a little too sore to play again (strained groin, day-to-day). So they once more fell back on their second-string goalie, Joey MacDonald, who is fully capable of filling in between the pipes. Could he recover from allowing so many rebounds, however?
Well, not exactly.
The first period started out feisty, with two fights within minutes of each other. First came big Mitch Fritz (apparently in the lineup in place of Sean Bergenheim, a healthy (?) scratch) in a bloody scrap with Colton Orr, which he lost. Then Mike Comrie got into it with Nigel Dawes and landed a few uppercuts. Fisticuffs aside, there were also plenty of big hits, with the Islanders outhitting the Rangers 35-25 throughout the game. t 15:04, Mike Sillinger broke the stalemate, taking advantage of Dmitri Kalinin, who ran into his teammate and gave up the puck to Trent Hunter. Hunter then passed to an open Sillinger who put away his second of the year.
The Rangers came out blazing in the second period, firing away at MacDonald, and eventually Scott Gomez broke through with his seventh on the year, on a delayed penalty call and great puck movement by the Rangers. Kyle Okposo gave the Isles the lead once more with eleven seconds left in the period, redirecting a shot by Chris Campoli in front. It was reassuring for Okposo after taking a hard hit to the shoulder in the first and needing attention from the trainer.
The third period witnessed a very scary moment for Islanders fans and players. Trent Hunter was run into the boards by Ryan Callahan on a clean hit; the door he was hit against, though, opened and caught Hunter in the back. He fell onto the ice and stayed there for a few minutes, eventually skating off on his own; he didn't return to the game, but the newspapers reported that after the game he was fine and only didn't return for precautionary reasons.
Shortly afterward, Petr Prucha tied the game on another rebound by MacDonald, and then Michal Roszival inexplicably gave the Rangers the one-goal lead, 3-2, on the five-hole. (In case you haven't noticed by now, the floodgates had opened at this point.) Blake Comeau tied the game up once more with his second of the year, and you began to get the feeling that perhaps this would be one of those games; that one where you thought the Islanders would lose it, but they would prevail at the end. Lord knows the play last night was going back and forth last night, enough to make you experience whiplash.
Not so, though. Markus Naslund got back the lead at 7:12 after winning another faceoff, with the puck taking a weird bounce over MacDonald into the net. And then Nigel Dawes took the final stab with his sixth of the year, making the score 5-3. That goal zapped everything out of the Islanders, and although Mike Comrie got one back with 18 seconds left, they didn't have it in them to make two comebacks in two games.
Last night, the Isles were fortunate to have kept the score so close, considering the lopsided shot total (37-24 Rangers). The Rangers did miss a lot of shots, and 14 of them were also blocked by the Islanders. But MacDonald, who made 32 saves, was also victim to some strange bounces of the puck in this game. One thing can be said for sure: there's no love lost between these teams, as the game was full of hits, punches, and other means of endearment. If only they could all be this entertaining.
P.S. Doug Weight made his return to the lineup, upon reports that he is being shopped by the Islanders. Guess it's a good thing he's only got one year on his contract, then.
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A blog by a long time New York Islanders fan who stays true to the fellas wearing orange, white and blue…but thinks the Islanders organization has some shaping up to do.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Islanders 4: Rangers 5