What If : 1980 Islanders Vs. 1994 Rangers : Game Two

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Using the simulation engine of WhatIfSports, Eyes continues our best of seven series between the 1980 New York Islanders and 1994 New York Rangers, two Stanley Cup winning clubs.

Game one was a thriller at Madison Square Garden as the Isles reeled off 4 unanswered goals after falling behind 3-0 in the first period. Continuing to pepper Mike Richter payed huge dividends as they out-shot the Blueshirts 29-15 over the final 40 minutes of play.

What would game two have in store between these two classic rivals? Would Al Arbour have his troops more ready to play early on in the contest? Would Mike Keenan make any changes in an attempt to get his team to play more disciplined? As Billy Smith and Richter lead their respective clubs out of the tunnel and onto the ice, let’s recap what occurred.


New York Islanders @ New York Rangers, Madison Square Garden, NY – Game Two (Islanders lead series 1-0)

First Period : The teams came out pretty equally matched but once again, the Rangers would get themselves into penalty trouble. With Adam Graves taking a holding penalty at 5:22 providing the Islanders some early momentum, Nick Kypreos, who would spend a lot of time in the sin bin during this one, would take an unsportsmanlike immediately after his team killed the first penalty. Only some outstanding work by the shorthanded Rangers prevented the Isles from building an early lead. At 10:05, Stephane Matteau would take a pass from Craig MacTavish in the low slot and redirect home past Billy Smith giving the home team what would be a very brief lead. Why you ask? Because Kypreos would march right back to the sin bin at 10:20 for holding and the Isles would not miss this chance. Dave Lewis pounced on a long rebound given up by Richter on a Denis Potvin point shot and buried his chance to tie the game. Late in the period, with Jeff Beukeboom in the box for high sticking, Bob Nystrom took a cross ice feed from John Tonelli and one timed a slapper into the top shelf leading the Isles to the break with a 2-1 lead courtesy the Rangers inability to play 5 on 5 hockey. Shots ended up dead even at 11 each.

Second Period: The second period would bring more of the same for the Rangers in terms of their suddenly apparent lack of discipline but they would step up their offensive game. After Adam Graves banged home a typical goal for the grinding winger, potting a rebound from his office in the low slot, Mark Messier and Kypreos (this guy would have been benched by now for sure) combined to give the Isles a 5 on 3. Unfortunately the blue and orange could not muster much on the advantage, coming closest when Bossy ran the goalpost and Kevin Lowe made a great sliding block when it looked as if Bob Bourne had a wide open net. But to keep giving a team like the 1980 Islanders chances is a dangerous game and that proved true when Alex Kovalev interfered with Smith at 9:26 and Bryan Trottier would go five hole on Richter to regain the one goal lead for the Islanders after two periods. Shots in the second  were 17-5 Rangers, showing their domination, even being short for all that time. Smith was spectacular in goal for the Isles making a number of outstanding saves.

Third Period : The 3rd period would remarkably be penalty free for the Rangers, save a coincidental on Alex Kovalev, who would get in a dangerously mismatched skirmish with Clark Gillies. And that would be huge for the home team, as their continued offensive pressure would result in Mike Gartner blowing past Stefan Persson down the right wing boards and taking a sharp angle shot that would agonizingly beat Smith right along the ice, almost parallel to the goal line. With 14 minutes remaining in regulation time, the rest of the third period would be typical rivalry playoff hockey with huge hits, lots of clutching and grabbing and few true glorious chances for either club. The trademark buzzer would sound and send our series to its first overtime. Shots in the third favored the Islanders 14-12 and after regulation the Rangers held a 40-30 edge.

Overtime : The Islanders had their chances in the overtime to put the game and possibly the series to bed. Heading home to Nassau Coliseum taking two at the Garden would have been huge but it seemed like the team never quite realized it as such. The parade to the box was back on for the Rangers, as Sergei Zubov was sent off for charging at 3:12, Mike Gartner went for holding at 14:48 and Kypreos (this guy is still getting ice time in OT?) another holding call at 15:46. But the vaunted Isles power play, which had scored three times in this game, also failed on their SECOND two man advantage and could not secure the victory. They actually managed to get outshot in the first OT, 13-9.

Overtime 2 : The game would end early in the second overtime period, continuing the NHL tradition of either early or late goals to end games in the extra sessions. But it would not be glamorous or highlight reel stuff folks. An errant clearing pass up the left wing boards by Bob Lorimer ended up on the stick of Matteau and as he curled behind the net he skated all the way to the top of the opposite faceoff circle and threw a wing and a prayer towards the Isles goal. With Dave Langevin and Mike Gartner battling in front the puck would graze off the left shin guard of the Rangers forward and take two hops behind Smith and just over the goal line. As the Rangers poured over the bench, they realized they stole this game on home ice with all the penalty trouble they found themselves in.


Scoring Summary:

Shots By Period

Stars Of The Game


Stay Tuned tomorrow for game three as the series shifts back to Nassau Coliseum. Thanks for reading us here at EyesOnIsles. Follow on Twitter and Facebook.

-Andy (@tazman19)