The Islanders outplayed the Rangers in every period, but after the first the score was 1-0 Rangers thanks to Henrik Lundqvist's heroics. For the next two periods though, the Islanders had a score to settle: Marian Gaborik had knocked Frans Nielsen out of the game with a check from behind that caused a (hopefully not severe) head injury to Nielsen.
And settle that score they did. The fights didn't come until the third -- and get this: They were started by a Ranger, even though national media won't render the narrative that way -- but the six consecutive unanswered Islanders goals began in the second and didn't stop until 14 minutes into the third when Trevor Gillies
fought scored his second goal of the season, long after Lundqvist had been pulled.
Highlights ranged from P.A. Parenteau scoring his 19th against his old team, Al Montoya grabbing an impressive win against his old team, Micheal Haley bloodying Sean Avery in a fight Avery shockingly welcomed, and John Tortorella fuming all night about many things, some of them even involving his own team's poor performance in a fairly important game. Oh, there was also John Tavares undressing Michael Sauer before Matt Moulson finished it off with a beautiful baseball goal. But you can watch the highlight clips for that.
Shortly after Avery "drew" a ridiculous interference penalty on Parenteau, Nielsen came out on the penalty kill and as the puck bobbled on him at center ice, he was checked from behind by Marian Gaborik. (Two minutes for boarding, then two minutes for roughing.)
Nielsen's head was driven into the boards. Radek Martinek tried to jump Gaborik. Ty Wishart, who would later leave the game with a shoulder injury, paired with Ryan Callahan who was apparently trying to protect Gaborik from Martinek. If you are surprised by four of the characters involved in the above sequence, you are not alone.
Soon after that exchange, which somehow left the Islanders down a man, Montoya made a huge save on a one-timer as Blake Comeau was penalized for a retaliation. The result: a Rangers 5-on-3 for over a minute. Thankfully the Isles killed it, and the next two period were filled with Justice in the Name of the Dane.
P.S. How does Gaborik not get a major for that? How does he not get a five-and-game? Direct hit from behind, and the ref watched Nielsen's face hit the glass. We all know if it's not a star -- or if it's an Islander with a reputation -- that call goes differently.
Game Notes [Updated]
- This game was so cathartic in so many ways (seriously, probably Avery's own
teammatescoach, at least, got a chuckle out of that sequence). Destroying the Rangers when it really matters for them. It doesn't make up for the other poor showings this year, but it's a start. Nice to end this season's series on a high note.
Twelve different Islanders had points, six different ones had goals. It was that kind of night. Your scorers, in order: Blake Comeau, Radek Martinek, Jesse Joensuu, Parenteau, Moulson and Gillies.
- Did I mention the fights were initiated by a Ranger after the score was out of hand? Jack Hillen threw a nice hip check on Brandon Prust, who was trying to make a pull-up move at the blueline. Brandon Dubinsky took exception and chased Hillen around the zone, ending with a crosscheck up high on Hillen, then initiating a fight with the diminutive defenseman with under 14 minutes left in regulation. Somehow, after all that, Hillen ended up with the extra minor for elbowing. This would be a pattern.
- The next fight came six minutes later, when Micheal Haley challenged Sean Avery and Avery almost mimicked his bait move that he did on Ladislav Smid: Look down the ice like you're turning the other cheek, then suddenly dropping the gloves and attacking. Fortunately Haley was ready, and fortunately Haley knows how to handle himself. Haley had control the entire fight, and somewhere along the line Avery's left brow started releasing the blood. You'll never get into Manhattan clubs looking like that.
- Prust and Konopka also engaged in a long tussle, and...
- Dylan Reese had three points and a +3. Three points! That's a shot at WebBard right there. But that's not all...
- ...Reese had a fight! He took exception to a Ruslan Fedotenko rough-housing, so Fedotenko decided, "I can take this guy." Not so. It was an even tussle.
- Just to reiterate: The Islanders scored six unanswered goals against the playoff hopeful Rangers without Nielsen (nor a replacement) and with a blueline populated by Dylan Reese, Mark Katic and Ty Wishart. No wonder Torts didn't want to speak after the game.
- Torts, by the way, seemed upset about everything: His team, the refs (why did Gaborik get four, he wondered), and supposedly even about Jack Capuano sending out his powerplay unit when the Islanders finally got a second powerplay with just minutes left in the game. By way of apology, Capuano sent Gillies and Matt Martin out instead. You can't win. One way you're running up the score, the other way you're gooning it up.
- Speaking of gooning it up, Dubinsky was at it again in the final 14 seconds, starting stuff with Martin at the faceoff. Of course in the national media that will go down as the Islanders starting the thuggery, but that's not how it went. The refs probably did everyone a favor by just tossing Gillies, Martin, Dubinsky, Prust and Zenon Konopka with 10-minute misconducts rather than have them risk suspensions for fighting that late in a game. But make no mistake: This wasn't the Isles sending out the goon squad. (Also: This is how Konopka and Gillies rack up so many PIMs. Fights are one thing, but the 10-minute jobs really goose the totals.)
Bottom Line: Ultimately, this game was about how the Islanders PK killed six Rangers powerplays -- parts of two 5-on-3s -- without Grabner, mostly without Nielsen, and with a thin blueline corps made thinner by the loss of Wishart and a fighting major to Hillen. That, and how they responded after the Nielsen hit, were key.
Haley Delivers Message to Avery from 200 NHLPA Peers and 50,000 NHL Fans
Here's the Haley-Avery fight, as posted at HockeyFights.com:
Cheers to the New Father and Other Notes
#Grabnerissodad: As mentioned on the broadcast, Michael Grabner's baby was born, both are healthy and he tweeted a pic of the little guy for those interested. He looks Austrian to me.
FIG Winner: To the Black Map, who surely did a COZO dance when he found out.
So...now the Isles need to evaluate Nielsen and Wishart's injuries as the blueline takes yet another hit.
And get this: Blake Kessel is apparently mulling leaving UNH for the pro game. I tell ya', stick around all summer long, because there's rarely a dull moment in Islanders Country.