It started with two quick -- one bloody -- fights after news that Rick DiPietro was an unhealthy scratch again (and Sean Bergenheim a healthy one) while leading scorer Doug Weight returned from groin rest. The Islanders looked good in the 1st, despite a 13-6 shot differential. They came out in the 2nd as if one period was enough. But a potentially key late goal from Kyle Okposo gave them the lead with 11 seconds left in the 2nd. Then in the 3rd, the Garden floodgates opened -- literally -- allowing goals galore and a freak injury to Trent Hunter, who was checked into the Garden's improperly latched penalty box gate.
Fights ran the gamut in the early-going, from Towering Mitch Fritz v. Colton Orr (Orr got the takedown and bloodied Fritz, but Fritz probably landed more of the flying haymakers that came from both of them) to the mighty mite undercard between Mike Comrie and Nigel Dawes (a draw, anticlimactic).
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Three goals in the first 2:35 of the third, and when all the blood was shed, the Rangers were left standing with the 5-4 win (aesthetically altered by a late Mike Comrie goal with 18 seconds left). I'll say this: Okposo, Comrie and (of course) Joey MacDonald played pretty strong games. And both teams hit each other all night like this game meant something.
For a Battle of New York, it delivered fun as promised. For a hockey game, it was poorly played in several stretches. For an Islanders 2008-09 game, it was ... an Islanders game, with a mixed on-ice bag girded by off-ice intrigue and controversy over the handling of DiPietro and injury info in general.
I look forward with excitement (not) to how, exactly, the Isles diagnose and announce the injury to Hunter, who certainly looked like he was out of it while he laid on the ice prone, with the stretcher incoming, before skating off on his own the way a traditional hockey player wants to.
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