The Rangers willed themselves to a 4-3 overtime win over the Islanders tonight. Trailing three times, on the receiving end of some questionable refereeing and unlucky breaks that resulted in Islanders goals, this team refused to give in and got the three points their play deserved. The better team won tonight. To the game points:
The Islanders and Rangers sleep walked through the first half of the first period. The Rangers played conservatively, perhaps timidly (given their recent slump, not a surprise) and the Islanders were more than happy to go along with that start. The slow start meant zero offensive zone pressure from either team and almost no shots to speak of.
Brian Boyle laid on a big, clean hit early in the first. If he used his body as effectively as he did with that hit – more often – he’d be a scary hockey player.
Another unnecessary Bickel duel. That aside, Bickel was solid tonight.
Whenever the Rangers raised the ante in the last few minutes of the first, they put pressure on the Isles and generated offense. A few solid scoring chances came out of the last five, six minutes because the Rangers did a better job of getting the puck in deep, and controlling the boards.
Unfortunately for the Rangers, Evgeni Nabakov was tremendous in the first period and made smart stops on Mitchell in front and Dubinsky.
The Tavares goal was from a quick break out from the Isles zone and the Rangers being unprepared. The forwards were slow to get back and the defensemen were too close together allowing Parenteau space on the right and thus able to get his shot off cleanly. Lundqvist gave up a juicy rebound in front and Girardi swatted the puck straight in to Tavares who was driving to the net. Several Rangers looked sloppy on the goal.
The Dubinsky line had a real strong shift late on. The line displayed great puck control, impressive strength and determination along the boards– particularly from Dubinsky – that led to a few opportunities and a great Dubinsky chance that Nabakov was equal to.
The shift was everything that’s good about Dubinsky: hustle, strength and determination resulting in generating his own scoring chance.
The game tying goal: Like with Dubinsky it was a showcase of everything good about Brad Richards. He skated coast to coast with the puck, beat a defenseman up the middle and used another as a screen to get his quick wrist shot off that beat Nabakov. Richards has such puck carrying ability and we don’t see it nearly enough.