As has often been the case in matches between the two rivals, the Islanders played above their ability and the Rangers played below. The Blueshirts were largely outhustled and outskated, their team defense resembled Swiss cheese and their offense poor and predictable.
But, blissfully, they managed to edge the Isles in the end and extended their winning streak to four games. Rick Nash's return has powered the Rangers past lesser sides, collecting much needed points along the way. With this asterisk of a season, just making the playoffs gives the team a great chance at making the Cup Finals and the Rangers sit in eighth, two games away from the midway mark.
As mentioned last match, this is just the warm up to the real race. It is a shake-down cruise where we see the problems and work to fix them. As this game showed, there are a lot of issues to deal with but they can win despite them. The trick will be to keep doing that as the opponents get better and the games become more important ... just 26 games to go.
*After putting together another completely forgettable performance, Marian Gaborik gained redemption by scoring the game-winner in overtime (courtesy of a Ryan Callahan screen). It was his eighth goal of this season, and it snapped an eight game goal drought. Interesting fact, Gabby has 37 points against the Isles in his career - the most against any single team other than Edmonton. He has 45 points in 47 games against the Oilers, 37 in 30 against the Isles. Can't hate on anyone who owns the Islanders ... except for Charles Wang.
*Nash was one of those responsible for the Grabner goal - along with Eminger, Del Zaster and Hank. But Sather didn't trade for him for his defense so whatever. At least he didn't take any bad penalties for once.
*Stop with the blind passes already. All of you.
*Welcome to the Rangers
*If Staal can't regain his full eyesight and recover from whatever concussion issues he may have incidentally suffered, the Rangers are screwed. Can't go very far with just two competent defensemen on the roster.
*J.T. Miller looked pretty good with Cally on his wing. Has to be quite the boost for the rookie to look over and know he has the captain at his side.
*A sellout was announced but the Mausoleum looked pretty damned empty on tv. For those that were there, how bad was it? Heard plenty of "Let's go Rangers" chants, heard there was at least one fight in the audience. Anyone get touched inappropriately by that clown Goldie? Or was he being touched inappropriately himself in prison, where he belongs?
*Still sad that the linesman broke up the Bickel/Finley bout; few things are more wonderful to watch than an Islander getting his ass kicked. (Although Stu woulda had his work cut out for him, Finley rag-dolled Pruster earlier this season.)
*Another game against a former team of Arron Asham's. Another game Arron Asham didn't play. Would have liked to see Haley run wild for a while but, after Grabner's early goal, you knew Torts wasn't going to allow that. Too bad.
*PHW Three Stars:
3-Evgeni Nabokov - 35 saves.
2-Michael Grabner - one goal.
1-Rick Nash - one goal and one assist.
Scott Hockey Three Stars:
3-Grabner - The Austrian scored the first goal and had several other great chances but his abominably penalty in overtime opened the door for the Rangers.
2-Henrik Lundqvist - Sure Nabby made more saves but Hank had to stop far better chances.
1-Stepan - Step not only fired the shot that Nash deflected for the regulation goal but he had a huge hand in the OT winner. He won the offensive zone faceoff (AMAZING!) and he controlled the rebound of Gabby's initial shot that was blocked.