Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The frustration was apparent in the voice of Islander head coach Jack Capuano after his team fell to the rival New York Rangers 3-2. It was probably the most frustrated Capuano has been all season long.
“I thought we played decent, but again it’s the same mistakes,” Capuano said, appearing to bite his tongue as he addressed reporters. “Not poised enough with the puck. I think we turned it over too many times back there. Fell asleep on the too many men on the ice call… That’s a lack of focus for me.”
The bench minor was the beginning of the end for the Islanders, who had battled back from 1-0 deficit in the first period.
Chris Kreider scored with the Rangers on the man advantage 12:30 into the period. Kreider was able to put home a rebound from right in front of the net for the early lead.
The Islanders found their way back into the game less than four minutes into the second period. Cal Clutterbuck was able to fly down the wing and wrist a quick shot past Ranger starter Cam Talbot. The goal was Clutterbuck’s first as an Islander.
Later in the period, after a flurry of chances traded between the two teams, the Isles caught a break. In a strange sequence of events, Dan Girardi knocked the puck into his own after try to swat the puck out of his goaltender’s crease. Though it initially looked to be Travis Hamonic’s goal, it was credited to Peter Regin.
But after a too many men on the ice call put the Rangers on the power play things unravelled.
Ryan McDonagh scored 30 seconds into the power play and then with 6:14 left in the game, Benoit Pouliot scored the game winner from the high slot.
The Islanders did not play a terrible 60-minute hockey game but the lack of special teams production and the defensive struggles noticeably hurt the Islanders. On the man advantage, the Isles went 0-for-3. The Rangers on the other hand converted on two of their four power play chances.
“They got two power play goals and we didn’t get any. That was probably the difference in the game,” Thomas Hickey said after the loss. “We had some great goaltending. They made some big saves. A bounce here or there, we get the win, but it’s not going to be easy to start getting those bounces.”
Defensively the Islanders struggled, allowing the Rangers extended zone time and struggling to clear the puck.
“You can’t go the other way and create offense when you’re playing an extended period of time in your own zone,” Andrew MacDonald said. ” I know [Capuano] has been stressing quick and physical in the D-zone, and I though we could have done a better job of that tonight.”
Capuano seemed to agree with MacDonald’s assessment.
“Our D have to play better. Thats the bottom line tonight,” he said. ” We need to win more wall battles as our forwards, but our defense has to find a way to play better.”