After a blistering start to begin the game in Kyle Okposo’s return, the New York Islanders lose their second straight against the hated Rangers.
Solid hits, good goaltending and overwhelming tension – exactly what we all expected tonight at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The Islanders and Rangers came out to close the last regular season game at the barn holding nothing back. It was the Rangers that came out on top 2-1 picking up the two points and are now a point back with four games in hand.
Both teams played their brand of hockey leaving it all on the ice. It was an emotionally draining game with a playoff atmosphere.
The big news for the Isles on the night was the return of Kyle Okposo.
Okposo’s presence tonight was evident and has been missed. On the negative side for the Islanders Nick Leddy was not in the lineup ending his 320 game consecutive game streak (Lower body injury).
The Islanders struck first as Anders Lee scored his 23rd on a wraparound that beat Cam Talbot as Lee muscled his way from behind the goal and finished the play. The Isles outshot the Rangers 13-7 after the first, taking the one goal lead into the first intermission.
The two teams came out just as hard in the second when Kevin Hayes scored at 11:35 in the 2nd on a classic. Hayes broke in on Jaroslav Halak as Thomas Hickey was all over Hayes.
Then, incredibly, doing his best Ben Roethlisberger impersonation, Hayes shook Hickey off his back controlled the puck to beat Halak on his blocker side as Halak dropped to the ice.
Even the Matt Martin cheapshot at the end of the play didn’t effect the Rangers youngster.
Both teams had their chances in the third. The Islanders powerplay was non-existent. A big chance lost came from Josh Bailey on a breakaway when the teams were tied at one. Talbot stopped the puck as Bailey attempted five hole.
It was Rick Nash who fired a shot that deflected off of Ryan Strome and was the game winner. Fluke goal sure, but thats how the puck bounces.
Now both teams are to move forward and do their own scoreboard watching. The Rangers improve to 11-1-3 in the last fifteen games. The Islanders are going too have to match the solid play by the Blueshirts to stay on top of the Metropolitan.
The rivals gave a perfect sendoff to the old barn. The way both teams played tonight expect to see them back there in the Spring. The two points are huge but is not going to make or break either teams season.
So why was this game so important? Because New York hockey is not just back, it is back at its best.
The Isles play three games in the next 10 nights. The Isles host Ottawa Friday night who are making a move for the final Wild Card spot.
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