Monday, October 11, 2010

Islanders rally past Rangers for first win

As we said yesterday, expect the unexpected when the Rangers and Islanders meet. Well, that one of the game's best rivalries would combine for 10 goals along with plenty of momentum swings typifies what Rangers-Islanders is all about. On Columbus Day here in America, the Long Island hosts used a couple of late power play goals from P.A. Parenteau and hero Blake Comeau to rally past their enemy for an exciting 6-4 win at a less than capacity Nassau Coliseum.

Instead of focusing on such a great game not coming close to selling out (11,748), we'll keep it on the rambunctious, firewagon hockey that saw the Islanders earn their first win. The traditional Islander matinee featured one entertaining scrap between Brandon Prust and Zenon Konopka along with a missed Marian Gaborik penalty shot and five lead changes. There also was Rick DiPietro back in net for the second time in three days, earning the victory against a team he always gets up for. DP finished with 29 saves in recording his first win over the Rangers since November 7, 2007. Good for him. Not so good for counterpart Henrik Lundqvist, who saw too many pucks go by- permitting five on 31 shots which left him shaking his head en route to the locker room.

It was that kind of day for the club from Manhattan, who just couldn't match the Long Island hosts' work ethic. A common theme whenever these teams meet. One thing about Scott Gordon's club. No matter who's playing in these games, they always bring it. No surprise that early on, it was the Islanders who got the puck in deep and carried the play- forcing Lundqvist to make some tough saves. Prust and Konopka went off a draw, battling to a lengthy draw. Not long after during an Islander power play, it was Gaborik who made a strong defensive play to get by a falling Doug Weight. But the veteran Islander captain pulled him down forcing a penalty shot. On it, he tried to go low but DiPietro snuffed it out to cheers.

With some momentum, the Islanders got on the board first when Comeau took full advantage of a dreadful Mike Del Zotto turnover. Fumbling the puck, the second-year defenseman watched the pesky Isle get two whacks before converting his second in two games. It was a bad omen as he had a forgetful afternoon. Following a great sweep check by Mark Eaton denying Gaborik, the new addition took a delay of game minor. Only 23 seconds later, Brandon Dubinsky converted his own rebound for his third in two games. The seesaw period continued when Josh Bailey beat Del Zotto to a loose puck in front for his first. Comeau, who always kills us, netted an assist. Despite picking it up, the Blueshirts trailed after one.

An undisciplined Islander bench minor got them into trouble again. Working the puck around, Del Zotto fired an innocent looking point shot that caromed off an Islander past DiPietro tying it 8:28 into the second. Some excellent work by Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov earned them helpers. This time, the Rangers picked it up drawing another power play. Though they didn't convert, the puck was in the Islander zone a long time. Not surprisingly, it paid off when Dan Girardi took an Alex Frolov cross-ice feed and ripped one thru a Ryan Callahan screen to give the guests their first lead. They nearly went up two but a review confirmed a wraparound never went in. A big momentum swing came when Lundqvist foolishly misplayed a Trent Hunter attempt right to Matt Moulson, who buried the freebie to tie it 3-3 with 21 seconds left in the stanza. Why Lundqvist, who couldn't handle a beachball insists on playing pucks we'll never grasp. Just a bad read on his part.

In the third, as often happens in this heated rivalry, one team scored and looked like they'd win. When Anisimov took a nifty Gaborik backhand feed and surprised DiPietro for his first with 7:14 remaining, the Rangers had their second lead. But they lost discipline. Even if Callahan's phantom trip on an already falling Mike Mottau infuriated John Tortorella, there was no excuse for Marc Staal getting his stick up on Comeau to hand the Islanders a two-man advantage. Boy, did they capitalize. As fate would have it, one-time Ranger P.A. Parenteau knotted it when he got a James Wisniewski shot that deflected off a Ranger right to him for a gimme. Moulson added a secondary assist. Still on the power play, the Isles did it again when Bailey made an amazing blind backhand pass to a wide open Comeau, who buried his second of the contest for the winner with 3:26 to go.

Just like that, the guys in more traditional home white, bright orange and blue tallied twice in a 58 second span, seizing in front. This time, they wouldn't allow the Rangers to force overtime. Frans Nielsen salted it away with an empty netter with 19 ticks left, making it a fun day for the Islanders.

BONY 3 Stars:

3rd Star-Artem Anisimov, NYR (1st of season, assist, 4 SOG, 14-7 on draws in 17:52)
2nd Star-Josh Bailey, NYI (1st of season, assist, 5 SOG in 21:27)
1st Star-Blake Comeau, NYI (2 goals-2nd, 3rd incl. GW, assist, 4 SOG, 3 hits, 3 takeaways, +3 in 20:27)

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