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Rangers take down the Islanders with a thrilling comeback in a Game for the Ages

Bobby Bevilacqua

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Cam Talbot gets a congratulatory kiss from teammate Chris Kreider, who scored a crucial goal in the game to secure a win in Talbot’s 38 save effort. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

In arguably the most exciting game of the year, one that saw a combined 85 shots on goal and 11 goals combined, the Rangers (34-16-5) took down the New York Islanders (37-19-1) by a final score of 6-5, capping off a comeback that saw three Rangers goals in the third period. The Rangers came back from deficits of 2-0, 3-1, and 5-3, snapping the Islanders win streak against Metropolitan Division foes, and bringing the Rangers past the Penguins and into second place in the division.

The Nassau Coliseum was packed, creating a playoff atmosphere for the rekindled New York hockey rivalry. Both teams delivered, showcasing an aggressive game and one that was entertaining for the fans, although Chris Kreider believed that it was “one of those games that takes a few years off a coach’s life.”

The game was hardly a defensive showcase, with tons of defensive breakdowns on both sides of the ice, and a lot of open ice, as evident by the shots on goal.

It appeared that the Rangers were headed to rock bottom again after giving up a goal just 11 seconds into the game, but it was fantastic to see the team come together, fight the adversity, and come out with a huge win, not only for confidence, but in the standings as well.

Tonight’s game over the Islanders ended a four game road trip, with the Rangers sweeping a four game road trip for the second time this season, and are the first NHL team to sweet two road trips of four or more games since the Vancouver Canucks did it in 2010-11, also coached by Alain Vigneault.

In those four games, the Rangers have scored five or more goals in all of them, totaling 22 goals on the trip. The offensive explosion helped propel the Rangers to second in the league in goals for game, averaging 3.13 per contest

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The Rangers have scored a total of 22 goals in their last four games, dominating on the offensive side of the game during the road trip. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

 

Although many of the defensemen did not have great games, Ryan McDonagh had his best game of the season, if not his career. McDonagh recorded his first career multi-goal game, scoring twice and finishing the game with six shots on goal. The captain was a force defensively, and consistently used his strength to move guys off of the puck.

The other story of the game happened just over eight minutes into the third period, with Martin St. Louis finally ending his 15 game goal drought, one-timing a great pass from Derek Stepan to tie the game at five. St. Louis had been struggling for a long time, and to see him come through at such an important time was great, and was reminiscent of his clutch timing in the playoffs last season. Hopefully this gets the monkey off of his back, and St. Louis is able to start consistently scoring again.

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Cam Talbot didn’t have his best game, but faced a ton of shots early on, making 38 saves for his fourth consecutive victory. Talbot is 5-1-1 as a starter. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Cam Talbot started in net for the Rangers, and had a rough night. The turnover at the beginning of the game set the tone for the night, as he would wind up surrendering five goals on a hefty 43 shots faced. However, he again made big saves at key moments, and gave the Rangers a chance to win. It was a Jekyll and Hyde game for him; he played really poorly at times, but had some nice saves on breakaways and other opportunities that were really important.

Talbot is the first Rangers goalie other than Lundqvist to make at least 38 saves in a game ending in regulation since Steve Valiquette did it in 2004. The win is Talbot’s fourth straight, and gives him a 5-1-1 record as the starter.

The game got off to the worst possible start for the Blueshirts, with the Islanders scoring just 11 seconds into the game off of a Rangers turnover behind the net. Cam Talbot, who likes to play the puck, went to send it along the boards, but whiffed on it, sending it right to John Tavares, who sent it into the empty net for an Isles lead.

The goal matched the quickest goal to start the game for the Islanders since 1994, when they matched that with a goal in the first 11 seconds of the game.

The Isles kept up the pace, and would score again in the period. Travis Hamonic sent a slap shot at Talbot, and he kicked out the pad to stop it. Frans Nielsen beat Marc Staal to the puck, putting the puck in the back of the net and doubling the Islanders lead.

The Rangers were getting massively outshot at that time, but answered back with a crucial goal before heading into intermission, and it was the captain Ryan McDonagh scoring his first goal of the night. The Rangers won a puck battle with the fourth line forechecking, and Dan Girardi sent to puck to McDonagh at the point. His wrist shot beat Halak, cutting the lead in half.

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Ryan McDonagh scored his first goal of the night late in the first period, shooting through a screen of three players to beat Jaroslav Halak. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

 

Lee Stempniak picked up an assist on the play, which gave him 200 helpers in his NHL career.

The Islanders dominated the first period, finishing with 22 shots on goal to the Rangers 11. The game was tilted heavily in their favor, and that continued in the second period.

Just 1:20 into the period, Johnny Boychuck connected on a slap shot from the blue line, walking into the shot and beating Talbot on a goal that he would like to have back. The Islanders recaptured their two goal lead and looked to have the Rangers back on their heels.

But again, it was the Blueshirts answering back very quickly. Chris Kreider burst up the ice after getting a pass from Derek Stepan, and used Boychuck as a screen, shooting through his legs and beating Halak top shelf, cutting the lead to 3-2 on his 14th goal of the season. Kreider now has 9 goals in his last 21 games, starting to find his scoring touch a bit more consistently.

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Chris Kreider scored his 14th goal of the season, a fantastic snipe through a defenseman’s leg to bring the Rangers to within one. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

 

The Rangers kept their foot on the gas pedal, tying the game at three just 23 second after Kreider scored. The Rangers got the puck into the Islanders zone, and JT Miller made a great pass over to Ryan McDonagh, who rifled another shot that deflected off of the stick of Lubomir Visnovsky and past Halak, giving the captain his second goal of the game, and his seventh of the season. The game was tied at three at 3:30 of the second period.

The Rangers suddenly held all of the momentum, but a poorly timed tripping penalty sent the Isles on the power play. As the man advantage was ending, Hamonic’s shot was stopped by Talbot, but kicked out right into the slot. Ryan Strome had the better position on Dan Girardi, and stuffed it in for his first goal of the game, and a 4-3 Islanders lead.

The Islanders kept the pressure on Talbot, and ended with a two period shot total of 37, and looked to be in control of the game. The Islanders would capitalize on another Rangers turnover, a huge problem throughout the game, this one from Dan Boyle. The Islanders went on a three-on-one, and Ryan Strome cashed in for his second goal of the game, and his 12th of the season.

With the Islanders fans belittling the Rangers netminder with chants of “Talbot!” and proclaiming “You can’t beat us,” the Rangers got to work on eliminating the two goal deficit.

Kevin Klein made a great defensive play, and connected with Chris Kreider on an outlet pass. Again, Kreider burst down the wing using his tremendous speed to beat his defender. He sent a quick drop pass back to Stepan, fooling everyone, and Stepan’s wrister cut the lead to one again.

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Derek Stepan’s 10th goal of the season cut the lead to one again, and was set up by a fantastic pass from Chris Kreider. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The Blueshirts wasted no time, and it was the future hall of famer Martin St. Louis scoring his first goal in 15 games at a crucial moment. Johnny Boychuvk mishandled the puck at the blue line, and went to pass it with his foot, instead hitting a rut in the ice and tripping. That sent Derek Stepan and Martin St. Louis on a two-on-one, and St. Louis one-timed a great saucer pass from Stepan to tie the game at five goals apiece.

The Rangers continued to pour on the pressure, and were outshooting the Islanders 15-3 over the first 11 minutes of the period.

With less than five minutes remaining in the game, the Rangers finally took the lead, and it was Kevin Klein coming through for the Rangers with his ninth goal of the season. Derick Brassard carried the puck in the offensive zone, before sending a great pass through across the ice to a waiting Kevin Klein. His well-placed wrist shot beat Halak, and the New York Rangers had their first lead of the night, capping off an unbelievable comeback.

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Kevin Klein is one of the most underrated players on the Rangers, scoring another timely goal to take down the Islanders for the first time this season.

 

Martin St. Louis had one of the assists on the Klein goal, and his goal and assist gave him 40 points (15-25-40) on the season.

Derick Brassard continues to tally assists, with five helpers in his four game assist streak. The pass he made to Klein gave him 31 assists this season, setting a new career high. He has 44 points (13-31-44), and he continues to be a fantastic center, and one of the most underrated players in the league.

The Islanders would pull their goalie late, and Josh Bailey would hit the post with less than a minute remaining, but that was the closest that that would come, and the Rangers held on for a magical victory over the rival Islanders.

Although the Rangers second line, outside of Kreider, had a rough start to the game, they had a fantastic third period, scoring two huge goals. Stepan, who has struggled a bit offensively lately, came through big with the first goal of the period, and assisted on two others in the game. He now has 10 goals and 29 assists this season.

And perhaps nobody needed a big night more that Martin St. Louis, and his game-tying goal came at a perfect time, swinging all of the momentum in the Rangers favor.

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Martin St. Louis needed a goal to jump start his production, and his goal against the Islanders came at an extremely important time. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Chris Kreider really has been playing “phenomenal” hockey for a long stretch of games now. He is learning to use his speed on the wings to his advantage, creating chances every game. He has also been really good at setting up other teammates, taking attention away from other people on the ice and freeing up space. Kreider was crucial in the game tonight, and has been for a long time.

Without Kevin Klein, this team would not be nearly as good as they are. A largely underrated piece of the team, Klein seems to score and make the right play at the perfect time. He has nine goals on the season, blowing past his previous career high of four, along with 16 assists, just one shy of his career high in that category. His four game winning goals sit behind just Rick Nash for second on the team, and his +22 rating shows that he is not on the ice for many goals, demonstrating his strong defensive ability as well.

The Rangers next game will be on Thursday night, where they will take on the Vancouver Canucks at Madison Square Garden.

THREE STARS

1) Ryan McDonagh – 2 G, 6 SOG, 2 BS, 4 HT, 25:42 TOT

2) Kevin Klein – 1 G, 1 A, 3 BS 2 HT

3) Chris Kreider – 1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG,+3

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Posted on February 17, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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