The Islanders dropped a 2-0 decision to their cross-town rivals at Madison Square Garden on Friday night allowing the New York Rangers to sweep the home-and-home series. Defenseman Marc Staal scored the game-winning goal on the power play just 4:33 into the second period after Islanders agitator Jon Sim took his second penalty for goaltender interference at 2:42.
“It was a tough loss,” said Islanders center Frans Nielsen. “We just have to win. We had a couple chances, but we need to create more. (Henrik Lundqvist) probably saw most of the shots there so we made the game too easy for him.”
Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano blamed Thursday night’s loss on giving the puck away, but the same couldn’t be said for the fall on Friday night as the Islanders turned the puck over five times opposed to 25 the night before. Instead, the Islanders downfall was due to a lack of shots on goal and two failed attempts on the power play, sending the Islanders to 10 straight games (0-for-32) without a power play goal.
Henrik Lundqvist #30 and Artem Anisimov #42 of the New York Rangers protect the net in the third period against Michael Grabner #40 of the New York Islanders on December 3, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)
“I thought tonight we had good movement, but again, when you have the puck you have to shoot it. I’m not going to waste around with the same personnel,” Capuano said. “I mean if guys aren’t going to do it, other guys are going to play.”
After coaching his seventh game, falling 1-4-2 since he was named to his new position, Capuano is unhappy with the Islanders production and said as a team, he isn’t (and the team shouldn’t be) satisfied with 17 shots.
“We played a good game today,” Capuano said. “We played a smart road game. We did a lot of good things. We moved the puck. We kept a good team to a limited amount of chances tonight, but from our end it’s frustrating that we had some opportunities on some rushes and we tried the extra move or the extra cross-ice pass and it didn’t result in any opportunity for us. We just need to get pucks on net. If we get a puck on net, there’s a rebound in there for the guys going to the paint.”
The Islanders didn’t record their first shot on goal until 14:58 of the first period. Islanders center John Tavares, who recorded four shots on goal (tying Matt Moulson for the team lead), agreed with Capuano. “We just need to get more pucks to the net and get an ugly one if we have to,” Tavares said.
Dwayne Roloson made 19 of 20 saves and admitted that he was caught off guard with Staal’s shot that went high glove side.
Ryan Callahan #24 and Brandon Dubinsky #17 of the New York Rangers struggle to gain control of the puck against Radek Martinek #24 and Jack Hillen #38 of the New York Islanders in the second period on December 3, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)
“(It was a) power play and I didn’t see it,” Roloson said. “Marc (Staal) made a nice shot top corner from the point and it got through. It’s one of those things that you’re lucky if it hits you because you’re not seeing it, but he makes a nice shot.”
With 54 seconds left on the clock, Capuano pulled Roloson from the net as the Islanders tried to tie the score and force overtime. Unfortunately, Brian Boyle backhanded the puck into the empty net solidifying Lundqvists fourth shutout this season with just 2.6 seconds left on the clock.
The game was scattered with a series of bizarre penalties. Although the most notable was the first of the game when Jesse Joensuu took a total of 17 minutes for dropping the gloves with Ryan Callahan, who only took 7 minutes after he left his feet and elbowed Nielsen, which sent the Islanders centerman flying into the boards.
Unfortunately for Joensuu, he was given an instigator for starting the fight, but an additional penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct after initiating a fight while wearing a visor, giving the Rangers their first power play opportunity.