NEW YORK -- For the third straight game, the Rangers whittled a two-goal deficit. Sunday against the Flames, they secured two points from the comeback effort. Wednesday against the Penguins, just one. Friday against the New York Islanders? Nada.
Still with only one win through seven games of a nine-game homestand, the Rangers let another rally go to waste, dropping Friday’s divisional clash against the Islanders 5-3 at Madison Square Garden.
With only one win in 14 games heading into the match, the Islanders knocked off the Blueshirts with a morale-boosting road win.
The Isles mounted a comeback of their own beginning in the second period with defenseman Brian Strait’s game-tying goal. With the score 3-3 and the Islanders with a prime 5-on-3 opportunity in the third, Thomas Vanek deflected Kyle Okposo's shot for a go-ahead, power-play goal.
After making a habit of blowing leads -- the team suffered a devastating collapse in the final minutes of Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to Tampa Bay -- the Islanders managed to preserve it Friday night.
Second-period surge: After falling behind 2-0 in the first period, the Rangers rattled off three straight goals, two of which came in the middle frame. It was a rough period for Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey. The Rangers tied the game at two, when Derek Dorsett banked a shot off the defenseman at the three-minute mark. A breakdown in front of the Islanders' net less than five minutes later left Derek Stepan all alone for a 3-2 lead at 7:58.
Rapid fire: Just 30 seconds after speedy winger Michael Grabner tallied a shorthanded goal to give the Islanders a two-goal lead, the Rangers responded with a pretty passing sequence down low for a Benoit Pouliot power-play goal to cut the lead in half, 2-1, with less than three minutes to play in the first period. Grabner’s breakaway goal was his first time scoring since notching a pair in the season opener. He notched an empty-netter with less than a minute remaining.
Puzzling penalty shot: Both Ryan McDonagh and coach Alain Vigneault looked absolutely baffled by the puzzling shot awarded to the Islanders’ Cal Clutterbuck in the first period, not to mention the fans’ apparent disgust. McDonagh was whistled for a hooking penalty after lifting Clutterbuck’s stick on a short-handed breakaway, and it turned out to be costly for the Blueshirts. Clutterbuck scored on Lundqvist to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead with 5:18 left in the frame.