The New York Islanders scored late in the second period to take a 2-1 lead but were unable to hold on, falling 3-2 in regulation to the New York Rangers in front of a sellout crowd Tuesday at Nassau Coliseum.
The Islanders were plus-1 at even strength but got into penalty trouble, surrendering a pair of 5-on-4 goals. The power play, which ranked first in the league heading into Tuesday’s game, went 0-for-3.
“I thought we played decently, but it's the same mistakes,” head coach Jack Capuano said. “We weren't poised enough with the puck; I thought we turned it over too many times there. We fell asleep on a too many men on the ice call. That's a lack of focus for me.”
Chris Kreider’s first of the season during a Rangers man advantage in the first period gave the visitors the lead. Evgeni Nabokov stopped Brad Richards’ point shot, but Kreider was in front to put home the rebound at the 12:30 mark.
The Islanders got off to a slow start in the second period, going to the penalty kill early and surrendering six shots during the man advantage. But they weathered the storm without damage, and it was Cal Clutterbuck who scored to reverse the momentum. Clutterbuck picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and skated unobstructed down the right wing before going top shelf over Cam Talbot at the 3:40 mark. Matt Carkner earned the assist for his first point of the season.
A rebound later in the stanza led to the Islanders next goal, an even-strength tally in the final minute. Andrew MacDonald’s slap shot from the top of the zone hit Talbot, but the long rebound made its way to the left circle. Talbot stopped Travis Hamonic’s opportunity, but the puck fluttered over his shoulder and Dan Girardi misplayed the bounce, causing it to go into the Rangers net at 19:19. The goal was credited to Peter Regin, who was in front of the net at the time, but Hamonic appeared to be the last Islander to touch the puck.
Early in the third period, a too many men infraction put the Islanders on another penalty kill. Ryan McDonagh struck a low one-timer off a defender and through to tie the contest at 2-2 five minutes in.
The game stayed tied until late in the period when Benoit Pouliot netted the third Rangers goal of the evening. Carl Hagelin made a centering feed to Pouliot, who snapped it through a screen to put the Rangers ahead with six minutes left to play.
“I think we just have to be a little better,” captain John Tavares said. “Obviously with special teams, their results were better than ours. We were a little slow at times. With the way this rivalry is, it always seems to be back-and-forth, who can finish on their opportunities and who can hold onto the lead. We didn't hold onto ours and they held onto theirs.”
The loss spoiled the Islanders debut of Thomas Vanek, who was acquired in a trade from the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday. Vanek skated on a line alongside Tavares and Kyle Okposo, and registered 19:49 of ice time and one shot on goal. The newest Islander, who arrived in Uniondale Monday morning and has one practice under his belt, said that chemistry with his new teammates should come with time.
“Our line was OK,” Vanek said. “We had some good moments, but we’re still trying to feel each other out. Johnny is so creative with the puck. I need to watch some video and see his tendencies. Same with Kyle We’ll get better.”
The Islanders head north for a one-game road trip Friday at Ottawa, before coming home to face Boston Saturday at the Coliseum.
John Tavares’ NHL-leading 10-game point streak came to an end … The teams finished even in shots with 24 apiece; Tavares and Cal Clutterbuck led the Islanders with three shots each … Andrew MacDonald registered a game-high 26:55 of ice time and four blocked shots … Matt Martin and Derek Dorsett engaged in a fight during the second period … Evgeni Nabokov turned aside 21-of-24 shots, including 15-of-15 during the second period … Martin led the Islanders with four hits … Peter Regin won 7-of-10 faceoffs (70-percent) to lead the Islanders in the circle.
New York Islanders
60 Kevin Poulin
New York Rangers
20 Chris Kreider - 21 Derek Stepan - 19 Brad Richards
67 Benoit Pouliot - 16 Derick Brassard - 10 JT Miller
14 Taylor Pyatt - 22 Brian Boyle - 15 Derek Dorsett
36 Mats Zuccarello - 28 Dominic Moore - 62 Carl Hagelin
27 Ryan McDonagh - 5 Dan Girardi
18 Marc Staal - 6 Anton Stralman
17 John Moore - 4 Michael del Zotto
33 Cam Talbot
30 Henrik Lundqvist