Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tavares Hat-Trick Keeps Rangers Winless In Early Season

The New York Rangers took on the rival New York Islanders looking for their opening win of the season, but failed to find it following a 4-2 loss tonight.  The combination of Rangers penalties, both real and imagined, and John Tavares scoring a hat-trick plus an assist were the difference on the evening.  Tavares continued to have a hot stick following a four point (2G, 2A) outing against the Lightning on Thursday night. 
The first period saw the Rangers have another slow start in being unable to generate offense and continuing their early season parade to the penalty box.  The penalty kill was excellent, and even had a few chances offensively, but you cannot live a man down.  The Islanders struck first on a goal from Matt Moulson when following a Tavares led rush and Parenteau tip pass saw him wide open for a quick wrist shot that beat Lundqvist short side.
The Rangers tied the game 6:23 into the second period when all three members of their top line combined to get Marian Gaborik a goal.  Derek Stepan made an excellent defensive play at his own blue line, Brad Richards picked up the puck and fired a beautiful headman pass to Marian Gaborik and Gaborik did not miss on the breakaway.
The Rangers finally got burned for their penalties 11:47 into the second when John Tavares got his first of the evening.  Moments earlier Tavares was robbed by Henrik Lundqvist on a point blank chance, but the Rangers could not survive bad calls against both Ryan Callahan and Brian Boyle as Tavares scored on a backhand chance.
Brandon Prust got the Rangers back to even late in the second when he put a wraparound off the skate of Frans Nielsen in behind Evgeni Nabokov, but the third period belonged to Tavares.
After Dan Girardi was called for an interference penalty early in the third Mark Streit showed just how much he was missed by the Islanders last season.  Streit with extreme patience at the point fired a perfect shot pass off the stick of Tavares to beat Lundqvist and give the Islanders the eventual game winner.  Tavares capped the hat-trick with an empty net goal with 1:03 remaining.
  • The Rangers had some positives to take away from this game in that Henrik Lundqvist was excellent again, Marian Gaborik is back to skating hard this season and Derek Stepan acquitted himself nicely on the top line.
  • The penalties must end or the Rangers are going to continue to have trouble establishing anything.  The penalty issue goes well beyond having to stop the other team’s best offensive weapons at a disadvantage as it prevents the Rangers from establishing their game and limits the ice time that Gaborik and Richards get since they don’t kill.