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Rangers win streak snapped at home against Islanders; Stepan Injured

Bobby Bevilacqua

dominic moore faceoff 1-13

The Rangers were shut down by the Metropolitan DIvision leading Islanders on Tuesday night, falling by a score of 3-0 in just their second loss in five weeks. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

After sweeping a three game road trip in California, the Rangers (24-12-4) could not continue their winning ways against the Islanders (29-13-1), getting shut out and giving up three goals in a rough second period.

The Rangers played a strong first period, but could not score, hitting the post on three separate occasions. After the first 20 minutes, the Islanders took over, and did not look back, winning the game by a final score of 3-0.

The Blueshirts were also without Derek Stepan for the majority of the game. Stepan played just 6:55, with most of that coming in the first period, and suffered an “upper body injury.” The Rangers will know more about the extent of the injury tomorrow.

Throughout the game, the Rangers struggled to do many of the things that has brought them success in over the past five weeks. The Islanders used their 1-3-1 zone, where one player forechecks and three players defend the neutral zone, to full effect, hardly ever allowing the Rangers to carry the puck over the blue line, and bottling up the Rangers speed.

Henrik Lundqvist started for the Rangers, and had a very strong game, apart from a short-handed goal late in the second period. Lundqvist faced 32 shots in just two periods, stopping 29 of them before being replaced by Cam Talbot for the third period in an attempt to spark the team.

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Henrik Lundqvist was back in net for the Rangers, and played very well,makinge 29 saves on 32 shots in just two periods. The Rangers did nothing to support him, and Henrik remains at 20 wins for the season. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The first period was very strong from both sides, and set up what looked to be a competitive game. Both sides were playing cautious, but were generating quality chances. One thing that stood out was the play of the Rangers bottom two lines, most notable the fourth line. Dom Moore had a great period, and was able to sustain offensive pressure alongside Lee Stempniak, JT Miller, and Jesper Fast at times.

The Rangers had two huge chances in the period, but hit iron on both occasions. At 11:30 of the first period, Mats Zuccarello received a pass from Rick Nash, and rifled a shot that hit off of the crossbar. Then at 16:32, Rick Nash made a phenomenal power move to split two defenders before hitting the post with a wrist shot. Derick Brassard was there for the rebound, but strong backchecking from the Islanders caused his shot to hit the right post, then sliding along the goal line and hitting off of the left post as well.

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Rick Nash hit the post after splitting Islanders defenseman Johnny Boycheck and Nick Leddy (pictured) in one of the Rangers best chances of the game. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

After no goals in the first period, the Islanders stormed away with the game in the second. Anders Lee scored his 11th goal of the season, using his size and strength to backhand a puck through the legs of Lundqvist, putting the Islanders up 1-0.

Nikolai Kulemin would tack on another goal with less than four minutes left, going top shelf on a gorgeous wrist shot to put the Isles up by two.

The Rangers seemed to have some life late in the period, when Travis Hamonic was assessed a two minute cross checking minor with less than two minutes remaining in the period. However, it was the Islanders who managed to score, with Frans Nielsen giving the Islanders their seventh short-handed goal this season with just 41 seconds left in the period, finishing off the Rangers.

The Rangers had some chances in the third, but could not find the back of the net. After the buzzer sounded, a late hit from Travis Hamonic on Lee Stempniak caused some pushing and shoving, setting the scene for the next time that these two teams face off.

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Both teams let out some frustration after the final horn sounded, with Dan Boyle and Jesper Fast mixing it up with some of the Islanders skaters. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Overall, it was a pretty poor effort. The Rangers did not have a lot of energy, and were outskated, outshot, and outplayed for almost the entire game. However, it was still only their second loss in their last 15 games. As much as us fans would like for the Rangers to win every game, it’s not going to happen, and tonight was not the Blueshirt’s night.

Although it was a bad effort from the Rangers, the Islanders deserve a ton of credit. They showed why they are the best team in the Metropolitan Division, playing strong defensive hockey and scoring at key moments. Jaroslav Halak was not tested much, but played well, stopping all 27 shots he faced.

The Islanders also supported Halak, blocking 23 shots and constantly tipping Rangers passes, not allowing them to sustain any offense.

The other big problem tonight was the Rangers inability to win faceoffs. While they only finished with five less wins, that number was much higher after the second period, with the Islanders winning what felt like three out of every four faceoffs. Their inability to win faceoffs led to more possession time for the Islanders, which led to more chances, explaining why the Rangers were outshot 19-12 in the second period.

Cam Talbot came in the third period, and played very well, making 12 saves, including one very good right pad save on Anders Lee. Talbot will likely get one of the starts against the Bruins or Blue Jackets, which are on Thursday and Friday respectively.

The Rangers will look to rebound against the Bruins on Thursday night. Boston has been playing much better lately, winning their last four, including a 4-3 victory over the Lightning on Tuesday night.

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Posted on January 14, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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