Islanders 5 (EN), Rangers 3: Get First Regulation Win Since Nov 12 Over Rival

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Kevin Schultz, Islanders Point Blank:

The Islanders have won only one game in regulation since November 12 but if it’s going to only be one, it might as well be against arch rivals on their home ice.  

In a high-scoring affair at Madison Square Garden the Isles got contributions from a lot of unexpected and odd sources. First were two shorthanded goals, one of which was Michael Grabner’s first since opening night on October 4. The other shortie was from Cal Clutterbuck, which came on a penalty shot. Josh Bailey also picked up his first point since November 19 and Ryan Strome added his first NHL point, both of those coming as assists on Brian Strait’s first regular season goal of his career.

Tonight’s win snapped a 16-game streak that saw the Islanders go 2-10-4 without finding a way to win a game before the third period buzzer sounded. 

First Period

Cal Clutterbuck opened the scoring five-plus minutes in with a shorthanded penalty kill goal (yep, you read that right). Clutterbuck had a burst of speed to get to a loose puck as Rangers defender Ryan McDonagh misplayed it at the blueline. As Clutterbuck closed in on net, McDonagh made a great play from behind to life the forward’s stick and cause him to fail to get a shot off. The referee deemed it worthy of a penalty shot, which was weird. It was a clean play and, if anything, it could have maybe been a slash (not really, even that’s a stretch). Nonetheless, Clutterbuck went high glove on Lundqvist and it tipped off the $59.5 Million Dollar Man’s glove and into the back of the net.

The Islanders would take their third penalty of the period a little later on and this time it would be Michael Grabner to cash in shorthanded. On a breakaway — tracker is updated! — Grabner made a sweet move to beat Lundqvist. It was Classic Shorthanded Grabner, with the takeaway at the blue line and off to the races.  This time, unlike so many other this year, he finished for his first goal since opening night.

On the same man advantage, the shorthanded magic would finally end as the Rangers capitalized on the Isles league worst penalty kill. It was some nifty passing in deep, the kind of thing that’s real bad and a league worst penalty kill allows, and gave the Rangers a bit of momentum to counter the Isles hot start.

Also, please admire this GIF from the first period (click the image if it doesn’t move):

clutterbuckshhhh

Penalty Kill

And while the Islanders penalty kill has been awful this year, it came up big late in the game.

The Rangers were 2-for-7 on the night — by the way that’s a 71% success rate which is literally the Isles season average — but went 0-for-3 in the third period when the Islanders took a few penalties that looked like they could be game killers.

Up 4-3 after a Thomas Vanek power play goal, 1:14 into the period Ryan Strome took a bad penalty 200 feet from his own net (sidebar; Strome also had an excellent defensive backcheck on Rick Nash late in the third. Hooray defensive responsibility!). But that was early on.

With six-and-a-half to go, Casey Cizikas took a bad tripping penalty as he went skate to skate with John Moore. After killing that off, Josh Bailey probably gave you that “here we go again” feeling by taking a boarding penalty with three minutes to go (this one was a weak call). The Rangers did manage three shots on goal on this one, but also had three giveaways that helped the Islanders burn time.

Late in the penalty, Lundqvist headed to the bench for a 6-on-4 advantage. Andrew MacDonald broke his stick and moments later Grabner did too, which could have made for some really crazy hockey with the Rangers holding a 6-on-2 stick advantage. Grabner raced to the bench for a new stick as the puck went on net — yikes — but it worked perfectly as Frans Nielsen got a stick on the puck and cleared it down the ice… Right to Grabner, who finished on the empty net.

Something to Build On?

Well, at this point any win is something to build on. This one’s against the arch rivals and in regulation, so the Islanders break the tie with Buffalo and are now 29th in the NHL in ROW (regulation and overtime wins, it discounts shootout victories). They break a tie with the Oilers and are 28th in the NHL in points.

But this one’s against a divisional opponent and picks up two points on third place Philly, who was off tonight. The Islanders find themselves nine out of a playoff spot. It’s a hill to climb but it’s not a mountain. Welcome to the Metro Division where the third worst team in the entire league is within single digits of extra hockey. (For comparison, the Oilers who have 25 points to the Isles 27 are TWENTY ONE points out of a playoff spot right now. They are done.)

92 comments
isles23
isles23

Great showing of isles fans last nite!!! Its usually only a smattering but after Grabners shg that was quiet a roar. I had to rewind it a couple times, first to see if I heard it correctly and after that to just enjoy it :)

David Finkelstein
David Finkelstein

February 14, 2013. The date of last season's win against the Rangers at MSG. That game was the turning point of last season. The Isles were in the middle of another poor stretch of play. The first period of that game was an abomination, as the Islanders were outplayed in every facet of the game. Then something happened. They came out in the second and dominated, played even in the third and stole the win in a shootout. We all know this team's shortcomings: defense and goaltending. But when they give a full 60 minute effort, like last night, they almost play like a winning team. Still having issues with clearing the puck out of their zone, still having issues with controlling the puck during the power play. But I loved last night's effort. Loved the fact that they didn't quit. Let's all pray that last night's game was a sign of more things to come.

tag1
tag1

Nice win, you have to take advantage of a inferior opponent when you play them :). Guys like Frans and Grabs have to show this desire when they play the other 29 teams not just the rangers, Grabs specifically showed during last seasons playoffs that he can play a physical game so he needs to do more of that during the regular season. Nabby should be well rested and hopefully he will play above average in goal and the Isles can ride him to the Olympic break, not play him every game but most games. The rangers look like a mess right now gladly not my problem. Big test tonight against one of the best teams in the league so far this season, everyone who performed well against the rangers will have to duplicate that against the ducks and the Isles can't give the Ducks 7 power plays tonight because I don't think they can count on scoring 2 shorthanded goals.

red2
red2

Was that a collective sigh of relief heard throughout Islander Country???  Did that singular win silence the madding crowd???  Reality may be far from last night's result but, it is the little things that matter.  A piece of foundation here, a building block there, a place to start.  The truth is still the fact that this is a flawed team trying to build off last years success.  But if my rooting interests lie here, I have to believe this was a start.


I have some observations going forward for the final 46 games.  No Ness and his -13 in 18 games.  I would rather have Carkner and his toughness, even if he's only getting 10 minutes a game. That's an entirely different issue because it forces more minutes on MacDonald and Hickey, and that should be rectified too.  Garth Snow might be best served to right now take a trip into the Louisiana swamps and find a voodoo witch doctor to stick a pin in the head of a Visnovsky doll.  I never thought he would be the answer but, we need someone other than Hamonic and MacDonald running the point on the power play.  Keep Boulton in the line up.  He actually seems like a better fit than McDonald on the fourth line.  He brings an even bigger edge than Carkner and how can you argue with 4 points in 11 games and +3 compared to 3 points in 26 games and a -15 for McDonald???  The next step on the agenda might be finding a more suitable role for MacDonald and perhaps bringing back Donovan to replace Hickey.  The more I see of Hickey, the more I realize why Los Angeles let him go.  Right now, for this team to take the next step, they have to pin their hopes on Nabokov and patch together an effective defense.  That collective sigh that went up after last night's win will only last as long as tonight, depending on how they respond.      


millhouse
millhouse

Don't know about you guys, but I actually enjoyed watching a hockey game last night!

bubbamac19
bubbamac19

1. If Lundquist plays like that for the duration of his contract, bubbamac and Isles fans everywhere will be VERY happy campers.

2. Good - no, great - to see Grabner rewarded for his efforts of late; he was a threat all night

3. AMac may not be the most talented, but he is all heart with several key blocked shots

4. Nice of vanek to make an appearance; he was invisible all night but for the goal and one hit. Need much more from him, regularly.

5. Strome, deHaan looking like they belong

6. Looks like refs wanted no shenanigans and called the tightest game I can remember - to the point of being ridiculous.

truth77
truth77

Like the 12 step program 1 step at a time, hope this was the first step.Whats up with King ?Looks like a pawn!

orangeblue
orangeblue

finally that grabs tracker is becoming relevant again, huh...

ccmm
ccmm

Finally, but I've become too bitter to enjoy this. Isles were still outplayed. Offensively and defensively they look scrambled. It appears they are making it up as they go. 


They lack a complete system. Playing hard is just not enough. 


Capuano can win 5 more in a row. Its just a smoke screen. He has to go.

erika
erika

THANK YOU JESUS!!!

mrcisback
mrcisback

  I think this is the first time i saw empty seats in the Garden for an Islander Ranger game.

potvincups
potvincups

Nabby's return and good play may just save this team's season. We did learn one thing during this terrible stretch, Nilsson and Poulin are not ready for primetime and the team did not play well.

orange2327
orange2327

Inserting boulton into the lineup has helped CMAC was a dead weight !!

grand_puba
grand_puba

Kudos to everyone here who pointed out Clutterbuck should have been on the penalty kill all along, that's becoming very apparent although I guess the argument could be made he was recovering form injury.

bossyacorn
bossyacorn

Nice win. Would love to see Grabner get on a roll. 6 out of 10 possible pts in the last 5 games. Should've been 1 maybe 2 more pts. Hope this is the start of something. It's been a brutal 2 months, I'm looking for anything positive to post.

Zach14
Zach14

Gotta take out the Ducks next.


crazyjoedavola
crazyjoedavola

Second line scoring. I'd like to know when was the last time they scored 5 with JT being shut out.  Nabby back has calmed it down some.  I really like DeHaan. They have essentially dumped Bouchard and Regin. Clutterbuck is starting to play like Clutterbuck.  And they are in a god awful division. Not drinking kool aid yet, but I am actually looking forward to going to the old barn tomorrow. 

puckdad99
puckdad99

Rangers were 2-7 on their PP. 


Islanders were 2-7 on the Rangers' PP.

puckdad99
puckdad99

SO HAPPY for Grabner  --  getting that monkey off his back. Sometimes that's all it takes to turn it around. Lots of people here have been trashing Grabs. Heck, he scored 36 in his rookie year. He's capable of 40 goals a year, but has been playing well under his potential. Maybe a confidence things, maybe a coaching thing, who knows. But when this guy gets going, the whole team lights up. I hope this is the start of something for him, which in turn would be a start of something for the Isles.

rmreturns
rmreturns

Isles beat the Rangers at MSG- I mean a PP goal, a shortie, and penalty shot shortie on HANK.

For a night, be happy...

Don22
Don22

Yes, the team will most likely go back to their ways against the Ducks tomorrow night. So why not enjoy this win and take some positives out of it?  Instead we still have the negativity.  I just don't get it.

It was a good win and they have played well the last few games, the ending of the Lightning game not withstanding.  Let's just try to smile when we can.

dkdk
dkdk

It may be an anomaly and who knows we may be railed 6-1 tomorrow, but it feels so good hitting the bed tonight in a great mood! Especially when it comes against the scummy rags!

Sal Portelli
Sal Portelli

This season has been brutal thus far... Hopefully this can get the ball rolling in the right direction... It's always sweet to beat the rival rags, but we need to avoid the hangover and get a win tomorrow against the tough ducks... We've got to start stringing a few w's together,..

jpizzy
jpizzy

Cluttberuck has 4 goals, Nino has 6. That tells me two things: 1. The trade (which I still hate) wasn't that bad at least for this season. 2. Nino was a bad pick at fifth overall. I just don't think his skill level is all that great. He'll score 15-20 goals in this league for a while, but he won't be a star or anything close to it. 

erika
erika

@isles23Yes, I was there and it was quiet as usual...until the Isles scored, then I could have sworn I heard cheers and roars! For a second, I thought I was imagining things, lol! Nice to see and hear. I'm telling you, if the Isles become a good team, everyone will come out of hiding, they are just waiting.....

tag1
tag1

@isles23 Garden is not like it used to be Matt. when teams like Boston, Philly and even Montreal and Toronto play there they have a nice showing of their fans along with them.

Don22
Don22

@isles23I thought the same thing.  While it doesn't rival the Rangers showing at NVMC, they made their presence known. 

dzruggie
dzruggie

@David Finkelstein Honestly the last 3 games they have played really well.  Once the other guys score it is very difficult to defend this team.

dzruggie
dzruggie

@red2 I just do not see Donovan being that good.  He was out of his league and the obvious statement missing from the above comment was how well Strait has played.  That said I would play Donovan over Ness but prefer neither.  I think de Hann has player really well and I like him playing with Hamonic

since72
since72

@red2 I was thinking along the same lines with regard to last night's lineup.  It may be the best we've got at the moment.  Play Boulton who has been more effective than McDonald.  The toughness that Carkner brings, more than makes up for whatever additional skill, if any, that Ness possesses.  Hickey's game has taken a step back.  I noticed that he was on the ice for at least 2 of the Ranger goals last night.  Still, Hickey is a better choice to be in the lineup than Ness.  You may be right about Donovan being a better choice than Hickey, but Hickey cannot be sent to Bridgeport as he would need to clear waivers and will not.  The team really has missed Visnovsky.  One additional point: de Haan has played very well since being called up.  He looks like he may have seen the last of Bridgeport.  Nice to see a high draft pick playing well.

dzruggie
dzruggie

@bubbamac19 The thing about Grabner (and Bailey too) is when he scores he lights up on fire.  With Vanek the guy skates and moves with little effort and i think that gives a perception of not hustling if you will.  What makes him special is the fact that he can light it up at any time.  So teams focus on the JT line but just 1 mistake they can make the team pay.  The key is the other lines.  Last for me I would swap Frans and Strome but with the line playing better - I'd let it go.  

jmoney93
jmoney93

@ccmm although I agree with the isles being outplayed... the flip side is that how many games have the isles outplayed someone and lost, they were do

orange2327
orange2327

Yep and although nabbys return has helped Nilsson/poulin may never be primetimers!! I hope I'm wrong but if one of them isn't an NHL goalie then its trouble IMO!

Vicp73
Vicp73

@grand_puba anyone who watches hockey regularly would have known he was a regular on the penalty kill in Minnesota. Why the coaching staff took so long to realize that is beyond me.  Used properly Clutterbuck can be effective!


dzruggie
dzruggie

@crazyjoedavola I wonder how much it would cost me to pay everyone on this blog to never utter the phrase "drink the kool aide" again?????  If ever a tired saying this has to be #1. 

dzruggie
dzruggie

@Don22 Inadvertently your first sentence is the exact negativity you are bashing lol....  Funny there are always the glass is half full fans and the roller coaster fans.  

wmayshays
wmayshays

@Don22 

At this point I'm looking to the future and I've liked what I've seen from Strome, Nelson and de Haan.  Looking forward to seeing Donovan come back improved and Lee will be here at some point this yr.

dzruggie
dzruggie

@jpizzy You really can't compare the trade in terms of production -goals to each other because they have different roles, skill sets and expectations.  Nino as a # 5 pick would be expected to roll 20-25 goals per year.  Maybe 15 in this NHL?  For Clutter his impact was what we saw last night, killing penalties and adding grit.  He is a role player you need on a playoff team (I am not calling this team a playoff team - yet before I get slammed).  

Don22
Don22

@jpizzy He is worse than that right now. He's getting second line minutes on a pretty decent team.  Who knows what will happen over the next few years, but he was over-rated. 

Don22
Don22

@dzruggie@red2I agree. Donovan played well on occasion, but had looked lost for a bit.  Maybe the time back down in the AHL helps him get him on track.  I'm not sure what type of player he can be, but I think he can be helpful.  Ness not so much.

Vicp73
Vicp73

@since72 @red2 agree with everything other then Hickey not clearing waivers. Looking around the NHL i don't see a big need for small Dman  who can't clear the net, or get a shot on net. Going forward Id be happy with a Hickey free team.

bubbamac19
bubbamac19

@dzruggie@bubbamac19You're right about one thing - Vanek skates and moves with little effort. Especially on the back check. And to date he has yet to display the special quality you describe - given the team's inability to score more than 2 goals a game and the overall record since the trade.

Don22
Don22

@dzruggie@bubbamac19I agree.  Vanek is kind of like Robbie Cano in that what he does comes easily to him and it seems like he is loafing.  I wouldn't say he is the strongest without the puck, but what he does is create space because the other needs to keep an eye on him.

Don22
Don22

@dzruggie@Don22LOL.  Touche DZ.  I actually wimped out writing that sentence.  I wrote it to hopefully avoid all of the bashers that come out when I (we) say something remotely "pro team" or positive. 

Don22
Don22

@wmayshays@Don22That's fine.  Although I'm not giving up this season, I think we need to take whatever positives we can. And we can definitely start with those guys.

Don22
Don22

@red2@Don22@dzruggieWell, I'm thinking they may not resign Amac.  I think they should, but we all know he is better off 2nd/3rd pair.  Hickey is servicable as a 3rd pain/depth guy.  He does well considering his size (or lack).  I think a lot of his issues are experience related.  


That said, hopefully we can come up with a bigger, shut down type D man in FA.  Then add Viz back in there (hopefully) and Carkner and/or Hickey can be expendable in the off season?

red2
red2

@Don22 @dzruggie @red2 

I do believe we have hit the proverbial nail squarely on its head,,, neither of the three, Ness, Hickey or Donovan, are the answer.  So, with Hamonic, deHaan, Strait, MacDonald and Carkner, we are one short for the line up.  Which one will it be???

I will say this about that,,, after Reinhart and Pulock arrive it's probably problem solved...

dzruggie
dzruggie

@bubbamac19 @dzruggie Bubba - I just do not agree.  This guy has real skills.  He will score or get close to 30 this year.  The Isles need to sign this guy big time otherwise the loss of the #1 makes the trade a bust.  I'll say this, I love MM but looks like things have cooled off for him with out JT and things are heating for Vanek....just an observation.  

Don22
Don22

@bubbamac19@Don22@dzruggieI see what you mean.  But I think that has more to do with the fact teams have been able to focus much more on the 1st line with the lack of any other scoring.  If the secondary scoring comes back to life, I think we will see more from Vanek and their line.  They have produced well while being out against the opposition's best shut down line most of the time.  That's not easy.


And I'm a big Yankee fan too.  Cano is lazy, but he also makes the hard plays look easy.  With that said, to get off topic - I am so glad the Yanks said - here is our offer. Take it or leave it. 

bubbamac19
bubbamac19

@Don22@dzruggie@bubbamac19 First he was the more dynamic player, stronger and better. Now he's Robbie Cano, who as a huge Yankee fan, I can tell you was talented but insanely lazy. The assets given up for Vanek demand that he produce more - however easy or difficult he chooses to make that look. To date, the trade is an utter bust and a huge factor in their struggles.