The Rangers powerplay came through tonight, scoring twice en route to a 3-2 win over the Islanders. Chris Kreider scored the first powerplay goal and provided a screen on the second goal, adding to his great contributions since being recalled this week. In addition to a solid powerplay, the Rangers also played a solid overall game, with both Islanders goals the result of some lucky bounces.
After a 3-7 start to the year, New York really needed to win this game in regulation, and they did just that. The four point swing in the standings may not mean much now, but could play a big role in March and April when both the Islanders and Rangers are jockeying for a playoff spot.
On to the goals:
Rangers 1, Islanders 0
This powerplay goal came right off a face off win. Kreider went straight to the boards off the draw to get the puck back to Brad Richards, and then bee-lined for the front of the net. Neither Travis Hamonic nor Andy MacDonald picked up Kreider heading to the front, and when Richards’ shot got through, Kreider had the easy rebound goal.
Islanders 1, Rangers 1
Marc Staal simply misplayed a bouncing Matt Carkner clear. Once the puck bounces over his stick, Cal Clutterbuck took a better angle to the puck, and beat Cam Talbot on a great shot on the breakaway.
Islanders 2, Rangers 1
Another bouncing puck that didn’t go in the Rangers favor. Talbot couldn’t handle the Peter Regin shot completely, but got a piece of it. The resulting bounce went off Girardi and into the net.
Rangers 2, Islanders 2
Another powerplay goal for the Rangers, and one where a bouncing puck may have benefited the Rangers. Derek Stepan mishandled a Richards pass, as the puck hopped over his stick, costing him a prime scoring opportunity. He managed to get the puck back to Ryan McDonagh, who blasted a shot through a Kreider screen and past Evgeni Nabokov.
Rangers 3, Islanders 2
The icing on the cake came when Michael Del Zotto finally used the glass to get the puck out of the zone to Benoit Pouliot. Pouliot got the puck to Carl Hagelin as Radek Martinek went to deliver a check on Pouliot. Martinek’s check didn’t fully connect, and Pouliot –although spun around– wound up in the high slot wide open. Hagelin fed him the puck and Pouliot beat Nabokov with the wrister for the game winner.
With a few winnable games coming up, this win against a division rival was critical for the Rangers. A win today can be the building block to a nice streak if they continue to play solid hockey. Carl Hagelin’s return will help them immensely with playing strong hockey. This is a good confidence builder. Then again, we said that about the win in Detroit as well.