Jaroslav Halak stopped 50 shots for a rare and shocking Islanders shutout as New York beat its rivals 3-0 Thursday night in Brooklyn.
The Rangers have already announced that they are not good enough to contend for the Cup and a firesale will soon commence. The Islanders have announced that they won’t do a lot to their roster because lamenting injuries and limping along in the bubble is always achievement enough.
So these teams are bad, or at least very very NHL low-average, and something silly and likely entertaining was to be expected. They delivered, although not with a 7-5 shootout, in part because both goalies played pretty well. (Henrik Lundqvist didn’t have his worst game, and Halak’s 50 shots faced looked like less work than the usual 35-45 shots he’s faced with regularity over the last two months.)
The Rangers and their roster of callups jumped the Islanders in the early-going, though the home team settled things down (relative to their standards) and escaped the first period with a 1-0 lead while being outshot 15-11. The Isles were much better in the second — still a shooting gallery though, 16-14 for the Isles — and added a goal, then another in the third to cruise to victory.
It was a sellout, it was rivalry night, it was a shutout over the Smurfs during a tight playoff chase — I should be more excited about all this, shouldn’t I?
Josh Bailey opened scoring on the power play with a pretty sweet snipe over Lundqvist’s shoulder for his 15th goal and 62nd poin— man, each time he adds to that total it just sounds weird. And I am not one of those “ARGH BAILEY THE WORST” fans who has been ranting about him for 10 years. He is what he is, neither a terrible player nor, except for this year, a likely 75-point producer.
A truly amazing sequence saw all the Rangers on the ice collapsed around the crease and low slot, with the Isles second line peppering shots that would skid just wide or be swatted by a Henrik Lundqvist snow angel.
Okay, these are getting out of hand you guys pic.twitter.com/C76eXPNv77— connor (@ConIsles) February 16, 2018
(Reference: Some billboard drama earlier in the day, with fed-up fans crowdfunding a billboard calling for Garth Snow’s ouster and then trying to send the overage to Anders Lee’s charity, who politely declined, creating some bizarre backlash at Lee and fueling one of the dumbest online/Twitter wars in recent memory.)
Naturally, the Rangers got the clear, but the same line continued the chaos on the next entry and Jordan Eberle notched his 20th goal on a pretty tic-tac-toe from Mathew Barzal to Nick Leddy to Eberle.
It marked Eberle’s fifth consecutive 20-goal season (but throw out Lockout III and it would be his seventh, as he had 16 goals in the 48-game 2013-13 season), and Barzal’s 60th point of the season.
Barzal's 60th point on that goal, third-most for an #Isles rookie. Might have trouble catching the top two: Bossy (91) in 1977-78 and Trottier (95) in 1975-76.— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) February 16, 2018
Barzal gets another, now has 45 assists this season- on pace for 62, which would be the 5th most ever in one season by an NHL rookie (3rd most by one under the age of 25) https://t.co/hhDI5JDfpi— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) February 16, 2018
Seidenberg leads the rush out of the penalty box, blows past Gilmour and can't slide shot under Lundqvist.— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) February 16, 2018
The Islanders added a third goal just 3:57 into the third, with a cycling sequence by Anthony Beauvillier and Barzal eventually leading to Thomas Hickey getting his own rebound and bumping it off a Ranger and in. They gave Barzal an assist on the play, which is arguably generous given Hickey’s lucky bounce, but once again Barzal’s exquisite passing helped make the play possible.
That goal happening so early pretty much put the game out of doubt, even for an Isles 3-0 lead. Though the Rangers lobbed 21 shots (to the Isles’ 8) in the final period, it was one of those cases where it actually wasn’t that threatening. They really shouldn’t give up so many shots, like almost ever, but they at least looked mildly organized and on the same page in their zone coverage.
There were a few good scrambles for the visitors to try to break the shutout bid, but after a while not even they looked like their hearts were in it.
The Rangers did briefly break the shutout midway through the third on a goalmouth scramble, though it was revealed to be a clear kick-in by David Desharnais and overturned after not much delay. Clear kick, but not typical: Desharnais was on his belly on the ice when he kind of back-kicked it across. Of course, that kind of action, with his skate blade up in the air, is exactly why they have this rule.
The Islanders, to my personal amazement, actually looked concentrated on sealing Halak’s shutout as time wound down. But I think it helped that there appeared to be nothing on the line, not even pride, for the opponent.
This is trending towards a pretty enormous game tomorrow night with the Hurricanes losing big in NJ.— Carey (@habermetrics) February 16, 2018