UNIONDALE, N.Y. – The Islanders didn’t get a win, but came out of Saturday night’s “Battle of New York” with an all important point in the standings.
After a hard fought a back and fourth game in front of a sold out Nassau Coliseum crowd it was the Rangers’ Dan Girardi who scored the game winner 3:11 into the overtime period. Up until then, Henrik Lundqvist and Evgeni Nabokov had been putting on a goaltending clinic.
The Isles and Rangers both had plenty of opportunities to score during regulation, but neither could find a way.
“It was a tight game,” John Tavares said afterwards. “There were a lot of close calls and they just got the good break there capitalizing on the opportunity. We didn’t get any production when we needed it and obviously we have to score at least one… to win a game.”
The 16,000 plus in attendance, a mix of Islander and Ranger fans, were treated to a physical game. Both sides came out with a jump to start the first period. Both teams would get chances, but the opposing net minders would not let up a goal.
At one point it looked as though the Rangers had finally beaten Nabokov, but it was ruled no goal initially, and a review of the play confirmed it hit the post.
The Islanders would become familiar with the posts as well, as they rang a few shots off them as well.
“It seems like on our run we’ve been getting those opportunities,” Travis Hamonic said. “I think we definitely played very good tonight. We definitely played good enough to win. Lundqvist made some pretty big saves, as did Nabby. It’s a game of bounces and if it goes another minute and a half it’s into a shootout. And then you really never know what happens.”
But the Islanders never got the chance to see what would happen in the shootout.
The Islanders killed off a slashing penalty that Kyle Okposo took in the final minute of the third period, but Girardi beat Nabokov stick side with 1:39 left in OT.
“At first I looked back door to see who was going to the net,” Girardi explained. “I saw he was covered, so then I saw the far side opened. I shot it high, hoped for the best, and then I felt free after that.”
While the loss was what Hamonic called “a pretty big pill to swallow,” the Islanders did come away with an all-important point in the standings. They stay at seventh in the Eastern Conference, a point ahead of the Rangers who are in eighth, and are still nipping at the heels of the sixth place Ottawa Senators.
“We still stay ahead of [the Rangers] and we have some games down the stretch,” Hamonic said. “I thought we played a really good game and we get that one point, and still keep that team behind us. It gives a little bit more breathing room. At the same time we still keep chasing teams ahead of us.”
His defensive partner Andrew MacDonald, while frustrated with the loss, was happy with his team’s performance.
“It’s frustrating not getting the two points,” he said. “But I think as a whole I think the way we played as a team we should be pretty happy with that.”