The New York Islanders dropped a 6-2 decision to the New York Rangers on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, continuing their losing trend (1-4-0 on the season) against their cross-town rivals. Despite the loss, there was one bright spot on the game as Matt Moulson tied his career high of 30 goals, which he set last season.
“It would be a lot nicer if it contributed to big wins,” Moulson said.
With 21 shots on goal, the Rangers scored twice in the first period, putting the pressure on the Islanders to come out strong for the final 40 minutes. Matt Moulson cut the goal differential in half when John Tavares’ takeaway at the Rangers blueline resulted in an odd-man rush for the Isles forwards.
After a first and second attempt, a pass back to Jack Hillen in the slot gave the Islanders their first score of the contest. The puck deflected off Moulson’s shin pad and found its way into the net at 1:21.
Brandon Dubinsky #17 of the New York Rangers skates for the puck against Matt Moulson #26 of the New York Islanders on March 15, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)
“I think it’s a testament to my teammates and the guys I’m playing with,” Moulson said of his accomplishment. “The belief that this organization had in me last year and gave me a chance, I played with Johnny for the greater part of two years, so him and PA, I haven’t had too many hard ones this year. They’re two great players and I owe them a lot.”
Erik Christensen knocked in the Rangers second goal of the contest at 14:52 of the first, while Brandon Prust got the first on a shorthanded rush down ice at 3:47.
But the Islanders definitely came out reinvigorated for the second period.
“I thought we came alive after the first period,” Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano said. “We didn’t get out of the box the way we wanted to and it cost us the game.”
After Moulson’s goal, PA Parenteau batted the puck out of mid air at 3:52 to tie the score at two. Chances wouldn’t stop there. Rush after rush the Islanders found there way back into the Rangers defensive zone, until a series of penalties diminished the Islanders offensive output and limited to them to five shots on net through the middle 20 minutes.
It’s definitely not what the Islanders needed, but as the Islanders were doled out a series of penalties, the Rangers got their swagger back and took back the lead with a goal from Ryan Callahan at 11:31.
“I’d have to say that third goal (was the most disappointing),” goaltender Al Montoya said. “The way (it was coming at me), I thought I had it. I lost sight of it and it went back to the post and I stayed down. Somehow, I didn’t even touch the puck, and it went right underneath.”
Montoya continued, “The boys battled right back even after a tough first. We battled back to make it 2-2, but that third one was the back breaker. It seemed to snowball from there.”
A power play goal from Marian Gaborik at 15:09 brought the Rangers ahead 4-2. Then when the Isles were down 5-on-3, Bryan McCabe scored with 48.7 seconds left in the second to send the Rangers ahead 5-2. McCabe’s goal was the Rangers third power play goal of the game, and fourth special team’s goal of the night.
Ryan Callahan #24 of the New York Rangers skates against John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders on March 15, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)
“We tied it and we were right there, then obviously got into penalty trouble,” Capuano said. “They’ve got a pretty good unit when you give them some chances, especially 5-on-3.”
Capuano added, “The calls were what they were. I’ve got no problem with the officiating. We just have to be better in certain areas on our penalty kill.”
After 36 shots on goal and five goals, Capuano relieved Montoya of his net-minding duties to start the third period.
“He’s been battling for us for a while here and I just thought he looked a little fatigued,” Capuano said of his decision to pull Montoya.
Capuano added, “He battled extremely hard for us over the last month.”
Christensen sent a nice drop pass back to Gaborik for a wrist shot and the Rangers sixth goal of the night flew past Nathan Lawson (who entered the game in relief of Montoya to start the third) at 12:43.
Tavares earned his third point on the night, and the 50th goal of his career, when he capped the game with a power play goal at 15:57, bringing the final score 6-3.