ISLANDERS 4, RANGERS 3 (SO) — Islanders Complete Comeback at MSG to Break Streak

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(Apologies for the Rangers’ feed, but doesn’t that make it so much sweeter?)

Kevin Schultz

When we last saw John Tavares on Tuesday night, he had his head in jersey following the team’s loss to Carolina. 48 hours later it’s a stark contrast; Tavares scored the winning goal in the shootout to earn his team an extra point, finishing with a celebratory fist pump. With the Islanders up 1-0 in the second frame of the skills competition, Tavares made a number of small fakes and snapped a quick wrister past Ranger netminder Marty Biron for the winner.

Tonight’s game wasn’t always pretty or full of exceptional effort for the Islanders, but it was downright entertaining for much of the latter frames. More importantly, the team came out with two points and a victory to break a five-game slide, in a come from behind victory on their rivals’ home ice no less. It wasn’t easy or pretty, and both teams had chances to win what ended up being a game that could have gone either way.

The first period wasn’t bad for the Islanders, it was downright atrocious. They allowed the Rangers to have the first ten shots of the game — two of which made it past Evgeni Nabokov — which led to the snapshot posted earlier. Matt Martin finally got a puck on goal, putting a shot on Biron with six minutes to go after Brian Strait sprung him on a home run pass from the defensive zone.

The Rangers second goal of the period was a bad defensive miscue that left Nabokov out to dry. Andrew Macdonald, who didn’t look good tonight (and neither did most of the defense), turned over the puck at the top of his own zone, leading to Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik getting multiple opportunities to put it in. Eventually Gaborik would to make it 2-0.

As bad as the Islanders were in the first frame, they came out firing in the second. It was a completely different team, possibly sparked by what happened in the dressing room at the intermission. It sounds as though Doug Weight gave quite the pep talk to the team.

The team came out firing in the second, scoring three goals in the first seven and a half minutes of the period. The fourth line of Martin, Cizikas and McDonald scored thirty second into the frame, with Cizikas centering a nice pass from the end boards to McDonald cutting in front of the net. Later on, John Tavares buried a slick wrister on a 2-on-1, which was followed almost immediately by Brad Boyes doing the same on a rush. The Rangers cleared the zone and all the forwards seemed to pull lackadaisical neutral zone orbits, allowing four Islanders to crash the zone. Lubomir Visnovsky took the puck to the high slot and put a sharp pass on Boyes’ stick, that the winger didn’t make any mistake with.

From there, it was a wild game. Carl Hagelin tied the game later on in the second on a tricky goal that needed to be reviewed. Hagelin split the defense, crashed the net and kicked the puck to the goal line before tapping it home with his stick.

The teams would trade blows for 25 minutes in the third period and overtime, but neither team could cash in. At the end of overtime, Michael Grabner had an excellent chance at the end of the period. Michael Del Zotto had a clear look at the net from point blank but missed and the puck squirted out to the top of the zone where Grabner — inexplicably with less than 10 minutes of ice time — fought off two Rangers to get a clear look at Biron’s net. He was hacked between the legs, twice no less, and missed the net and didn’t get a call.

In the skills competition Evgeni Nabokov stoned Marian Gaborik on a tricky play. Gaborik flew into the zone and almost came to a stop before quickly stickhandling and letting go a snapper. Frans Nielsen had the first crack at Biron and didn’t go for the patented backhand of justice. He went five-hole on Biron and, after the game, said it was some gamesmanship:

After Nabokov stopped Rick Nash, John Tavares won it for the Islanders as you saw at the top of the post. Tavares pumped his fist and, for the lip readers out there, appeared to a give a ‘[forecheck] yeah boys!’ to the emptying Islander bench.

Up next for the Islanders is a home date with the Devils on Saturday, who sit on top of the Eastern Conference standings with 19 points. The Islanders move to 5-7-1 on the year with 11 points. They sit tied for last in the east with, get this, five other teams. The schedule doesn’t get any easier and the team is going to have to figure out how to come to play every night. I don’t know that Doug Weight has 35 more motivational speeches in him.