Thomas Vanek made his debut as a part of the New York Islanders Tuesday night. Vanek started the game along side Kyle Okposo and John Tavares, as the New York Rangers made the trip to the Nasau Coliseum to take on the Isles. Henrik Lundqvist was given the night off after starting the night before against the Montreal Canadiens, so Cam Talbot was given the keys to the crease against Evgeni Nabokov who started for the Islanders.
The game started off rather slowly, only one shot was put on net in the opening seven minutes. Almost half way through the period, Carl Hagelin was given a two minute minor for slashing and sent the Islanders to the powerplay. The Islanders were unable to get much going before Okposo took a penalty for hooking Taylor Pyatt to slow down Pyatt’s clearing of the puck.
The game opened up a bit as soon as it went to four on four. Shortly after Hagelin’s penalty expired, the Rangers Derek Stepan got the puck to Brad Richards at the point off the faceoff, Richards wristed a shot on net as Chris Kreider set up in front to screen Nabokov. Kreider tipped the shot, recovered his own rebound, and spun around putting the puck into the back of the net to give the Rangers the 1-0 lead on the powerplay.
The first period was a bit sloppy for both teams. The Rangers and Islanders both struggled to cleanly move the puck out of their own end, and often resulted in turnovers and fights in the boards for control of the puck. At the end of the first shots were 9-4 in favor of the Islanders. The Rangers blocked 7 shots, and won 11 of the 16 faceoffs.
The Rangers were unable to convert on their second powerplay of the game, as Okposo went off for his second penalty of the night early in the second. On the remaining pressure after the powerplay, Matt Carkner chipped the puck out of the zone, and Cal Clutterbuck won the race to the puck and sniped Cam Talbot over the catching glove to tie the game at one a piece.
The Rangers controlled the majority of the second period, but once again the Islanders were able to score on a lucky bounce. With only 40 seconds remaining in the period, Travis Harmonic put the puck on net from the left side near the goal line. The puck went off Peter Regin, off Talbot, into the air, off Dan Girardi‘s chest and rolled into the net.
The Rangers controlled the play in the second, but the islanders were able to convert on two lucky bounces and escaped the period unscathed, with the 2-1 lead. The Rangers outshot the Islanders 15-7 in the second period.
The third period was more of the same from the Rangers, they controlled the pace early and did a good job of getting pucks on net. Nabokov continued to play well, but some miscommunication on the bench led to another Rangers powerplay as the Islanders got caught with six skaters on the ice.
The Rangers were able to score their second powerplay goal of the game as Ryan McDonagh ripped one from the point through traffic and into the back of the net. Mat Zuccarello was given the first assist, and Derek Steppan the second. Stepan appeared to want to shoot the puck, but after losing control for a moment, moved it to the point instead, leading to McDonagh’s one timer that ended up in the back of the net.
The Islanders slowly tilted the ice in their favor after the Rangers tied the game. Mark Zuccarello went off for boarding with 11:28 remaining. The Islanders powerplay looked good, as it had all night, but once again, they were unable to score with the man advantage.
With just over six minutes remaining in the third, Michael Del Zotto threw the puck up the boards into the neutral zone to Benoit Pouliot who dropped the puck to Carl Hagelin. The Islanders defenders over committed and left Pouliot wide open in the middle of the zone. Hagelin gave him the puck, and Pouliot made no mistake in burying the shot to give the Rangers the 3-2 lead.
The Rangers would hold on to take the victory and improve to 4-7-0 on the season, as the Islanders fell to 4-5-3.
Thomas Vanek finished his first game with the Islanders with 19:48 minutes on the ice and a single shot. He played well early and was part of the powerplay line for the Isles that played well, despite never getting the puck by Cam Talbot.
Talbot played exceptionally well in only his third NHL game. He improved to 2-1-0 on the season stopping 22 of the 24 shots on net. He’s looked good in the two games I’ve seen him play in and if he can keep it up, the Rangers are going to have a capable back up behind Lundqvist that can help spell him a little more frequently than former back up Martin Biron was able to.
The New York Rangers controlled most of the game tonight, and look like they might be able to start turning their season around and catching up in the Metropolitan Division. On the other hand, the Islanders defense wasn’t where it needed to be, and the Rangers were able to take advantage of the powerplays they were given. The Rangers powerplay finished the night 2 for 4, while the Islanders were held without a goal with the man advantage on 3 opportunities.
Topics: Benoit Pouliot, Brad Richards, Cal Clutterbuck, Cam Talbot, Carl Hagelin, Chris Kreider, Dan Girardi, Derek Stepan, Evgeni Nabokov, Henrik Lundqvist, John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Martin Biron, Matt Carkner, Michael Del Zotto, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Peter Regin, Ryan Mcdonagh, Thomas Vanek