For most Islanders fans, the thought of a Ranger game, usually brings the feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, and anticipation. With the Ranger team playing as strongly as they have been, the fans will show up in droves.
And that they did.
When I arrived, as the rain came down, I saw a Winnebago with a huge tent, and Ranger fans were tailgaiting with their pre-game beverages. I know a good deal of Ranger fans that are good hockey fans, and not disrespectful. But to be totally honest, the crowd at these derbys are ones that bring out the worst in both sides. These are the types that keep my wife from attending these games. She just can not handle the sheer hostility.
Saying that, tonight there was not a lot of hostility as most games are, but the game itself was totally exciting. The Islanders looked like a completely different team than the one that was out there on Monday and Tuesday. They were hitting, winning the puck battles, and their breakout from the defensive zone was significantly better.
Matt Moulson started the scoring, getting a goal in his usual position, pushing the puck past Marty Biron to give the home team the lead. Before that, Matt Martin and Stu Bickel got into a good fight, which brought the passion of the game to a new level.
PA Parenteau, who had 5 goals in his 10 games against his old team, began to show his continued movement up the scoring leaders list, when he gave the Isles a 2-0 lead as he blasted a shot from the edge of the right circle past Biron. This brought the home faithful to a frenzy roar, something rarely seen at the Coliseum this season. At this point, it looked like the Isles would dominate the game.
However, you can not count out the Rangers. They are not the Conference leaders for nothing.
Mark Staal got a power play shot past the short side of Evgeni Nabokov to get the visitors on the board. That awoke the sleeping lair of Ranger supporters.
In the second period, Parenteau got a shot off from the right circle that gave the Isles a 3-1 lead. The power play marker was Parenteau’s 14th of the season the momentum that the Rangers got in the end of the first period began to shift again to the home sight.
What would again be a positive for the Isles would soon be turned away, as Marion Gaborik and Derek Stepan on the power play gave the Rangers life and the fans a reason to stay.
The chanting back and forth of “Let’s go Rangers” and “Let’s go Islanders”, filled the air and make the old barn shake like the winds that were blowing outside on Hempstead Turnpike. It was actually FUN to be at a game again; and the last 23 minutes of regulation was exciting. Both Biron and Nabokov were outstanding, making some incredible saves. The hitting was robust and the tension was so thick.
Then – to overtime. Milan Jurcina was called for boarding – giving the Rangers a 4 on 3 power play with a minute and 27 seconds on the clock. This power play was immediately neutralized, as Derek Stepan was called for hooking Travis Hamonic – showing a rare 3 on 3 for the remainder of overtime, which produced nothing.
In the shootout, Frans Nielsen decided to deviate from his normal backhand, top-shelf move, and went five-hole on Biron to go ahead. Marion Gaborik did the same thing to even the score. On the fourth round, Matt Moulson would get a shot through and give the Isles the 2-1 lead. Nabokov would stop John Mitchell to give the home team the victory.
Despite allowing the visitors one point, this was a big victory for the Isles. They needed these point desperately, in order to keep pace. They are currently six points out the playoffs. They now head to a four game road trip, hitting Ottawa, Washington, Philly, and Boston, before coming home to face the Devils. This week will be the top factor as to whether the Isles will be a playoff contender, or pretender.
In a move this morning, the Islanders released Brian Rolston, putting him on waivers, and recalling David Ullstrom. Rolston has been a deep disappointment for the team. Ullstrom was leading the Tigers in scoring despite missing over a dozen games with his recall to New York, and his subsequent concussion. Travis Hamonic returned after missing 9 games with a broken nose. His play was not missing a beat, being quite physical, and a big help on the back end.
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