I don’t care what anyone says; a win over your cross-town rival always feels a little bit better than most wins. In the first meeting back in early December, The Islanders won one of the most exciting games of the year in a shootout. In their second matchup of the year, the Islanders secured two much needed points against the Rangers to take sole possession of second place in the Metro. It was clear from the first puck drop that both teams were going to come out hitting and there would be no love lost in this one.
Early on, both teams were getting looks on goal but Lundqvist and Halak each put their stamp on the game with some big saves. Lundqvist’s coming on a Cal Clutterbuck wrister while Halak did well to keep the Rangers off the board, despite 14 first period shots on goal.
The second period was more of the same until a late goal by Marc Staal gave the Rangers the game’s first goal. This came off a beautiful centering pass from Kevin Hayes that may have been tipped first by Chris Krieder. The Rangers are dominant with leads when heading into the 3rd period so things looked bleak for the Islanders. Coming into this game the Rangers were 51-0-1 when going into the 3rd period with a lead.
Early in the game, tensions were running high and this would be a theme throughout. After a Cal Clutterbuck interference penalty it looked like Matt Martin and Dylan McIlrath were going to drop the gloves but the refs stepped in. Then again with 1.5 seconds left in second period it looked like a Martin-McIlrath boxing match was certain, but a linesman stepped in once again. Both players received unsportsmanlike conduct minors and the 3rd period was set to start with 4 on 4 hockey.
This was the turning point of the game. The Islanders capitalized on the 4 on 4 and tied the game on a Brock Nelson goal coming off an Adam Pelech pass. Minutes later McIlrath received a roughing penalty and the Islanders were taking a firm grasp on the game. On the power play, the Islanders had the puck in the Rangers zone and were probing. Okposo got the puck to Tavares behind the net who then found Nick Leddy in front for what would eventually be the game winner.
Okposo would score on an empty net before the final buzzer to put a bow on this Islanders win. Jaroslav Halak won his 8th consecutive game against Henrik Lundqvist. The red hot Brock Nelson built upon his recent hot streak as he leads the team in goals and has accumulated 7 points in his last 5 games. Leddy, Pelech, and company alleviated some doubt many Islanders fans have with Travis Hamonic and Johnny Boychuk sidelined for the foreseeable future.
The first two matchups between the Islanders and Rangers have been really fun to watch and we are guaranteed they will play two more in the coming months at Madison Square Garden. I seem to think that they will be seeing each other much more in the future. Hopefully that will be in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs if New York fans get their wish.