Battle of New York, anyone?
The way this one went, the New York Islanders were lucky to take the lead three times. A backbreaking Travis Hamonic tripping penalty in OT -- and a 10-minute misconduct thrown in at game's end for good measure -- would ensure the Isles wouldn't take the lead a fourth time.
Marian Gaborik's wrist shot around Milan Jurcina and upstairs on Evgeni Nabokov sealed the 4-3 OT win for the Rangers. It was particularly cruel not just for the blown 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 leads, but also for the desperate work the Islanders penalty killers did to fall two seconds short of killing off Hamonic's penalty.
Hamonic was upset about the call -- or maybe it was because Brad Richards flopped to embellish the trip? -- but he stepped up and took a gamble in OT, and the team paid the consequences. Regardless, this loss isn't on his one mistake.
Except for the top line, the Islanders were outplayed throughout. That said, the final 36-19 shot total bears some explanation: At even strength, shots were 23-17 for the Rangers. But the Islanders powerplay was impotent, while the Rangers unloaded 11 shots on Nabokov in over nine minutes with the extra man. The PK was simply torched.
Despite all that, there they were with another chance for a win, as late as the second intermission and with things even in OT. Alas.
Another heartbreaker, as they say. And another game with a very conservative approach "protecting" slim one-goal leads. While granting the talent deficit, this team's conservative approach seems to breed games like these: Even when a lead is acquired, it's hang back and hang on. A common symptom of weaker teams, I suppose, but one that makes a fan contemptuous through its dull familiarity.
Give The People What They Want: Micheal Haley fought Stu Bickell again. Unlike last encounter, the refs did not interpret an instigator. Haley got the better of it, but it was an entertaining bout for any fight fan. Haley's last fight with Bickell was what injured his hand and put him on the shelf (and ultimately, back to the AHL) for a bit, so I'm sure there was motive for a reunion even beyond the rivalry occasion.
Nabby Too: Chippy game for Nabokov, who took a costly high-sticking penalty (the Rangers scored on the ensuing PP) and also got into a post-whistle scrum at the end of the second period. Off-setting penalties on that one. With the way his defensemen allowed men to waltz in front for open shots -- or in Jurcina's case, alternately screen Nabokov or vacate the premises -- it's no wonder he was in a combative mood.
Special Teams Fest: With all the special teams time -- including a four-minute powerplay for the Islanders -- Travis Hamonic logged a team high 26:31 even despite missing the entire OT PK. That penalty was obviously pivotal: Not only the dangerous 4-on-3 it created, but also creating that without the Islanders' best defenseman on the ice. Frans Nielsen and Jay Pandolfo took turns handling the forward duty.
Fun To See: It's not every month you'll get an Andrew MacDonald breakaway, and he finished calmly like it was no big deal. Great pass from John Tavares to spring him as A-Mac came out of the box. Tavares (28) and Matt Moulson (29) each inched closer to 30 goals in tallying the other Isles markers.
Next Up: Tuesday the Capitals visit. They're in 8th place in the East right now (10 points ahead), but that doesn't much matter.
But anyway. Enough of that ... your turn.