The Rangers beat the Islanders 2-1 in overtime, in a game that was a goaltending duel and in a game that was well contested by both teams. Both clubs had chances, both clubs played relatively well in all three zones but in the end it was the Rangers improving powerplay that was the difference. We discussed earlier today how the offense – but specifically Gaborik – had to step up over the next few games and an overtime, powerplay game winner is a great start. Rick Nash had another two point night, quickly becoming his standard. On to the goal breakdown.
1-0 Islanders; Michael Grabner
The first goal came as the Islanders cycled the puck along the wall when the puck eventually comes to Colin McDonald who immediately back hands it, throwing it up the middle of the ice where he finds a streaking Michael Grabner in the high slot. Grabner then wristed it top right corner past a helpless Lundqvist. Just before the goal Grabner had circled through the zone creating time and space for himself and was relatively open as he received the puck. The goal was typical of the Islanders’ start as they were looking to put the puck on the net at every opportunity and were constantly looking for traffic in front.
1-1 Rangers; Rick Nash (who else?)
With no goals in the second it came to the closing minutes of the third before the Rangers tied it up. After Carl Hagelin picked up the puck in the corner he then cycled the puck up to and along the blue line, where he reversed the puck to Stepan who took a slap shot which was deflected down and in by Rick Nash who had moved in front of Evgeni Nabakov. The Rangers game tying goal was such simple hockey; puck retention, good quality shot on net, create traffic in front, create a screen, look for a deflection. Pucks on net + traffic in front = goals.
2-1 Rangers; Marian Gaborik
The Rangers won the game in overtime as the powerplay once again converted, building on the solid form in recent games. Rick Nash had the puck to the left of Nabakov and passed it back to Gaborik set up in the middle of the ice. With Callahan screening Nabakov right in front, Gaborik sent a low hard shot through Nabakov to win the game. Callahan jumped in the air as Gaborik shot, meaning Nabakov likely saw nothing of the puck before it hit the net. A huge goal from Gaborik.
The Rangers played well and barring a few defensive miscues the only problem was solving Nabakov who was excellent all game and was only beaten by a deflection and a screen. Both goaltenders played well while Nash and Hagelin generated chances throughout. When a team is down late in the third and finds a way to win on the road, against a rival its always a good win.