Originally posted on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 2/24/12

You can say a lot of things about tonight’s loss to the rival New York Islanders, but one thing you cannot say is that Rick Nash or any other offensive addition would’ve made a dramatic difference in the outcome. It was an exciting, hard-fought contest between two teams that came to play, and the Rangers made an impressive comeback before falling short in the shootout. It was the beginning of the first period that cost them, besides John Tortorella’s horrendous shootout decisions.

The Rangers were off to one of their usual slow starts to begin this game, with the Islanders buzzing as you would expect in front of their home crowd after back-to-back losses. Much to the dislike of head coach John Tortorella, the Blueshirts somehow did not tie-up the stick of Matt Moulson positioned in the slot and he would end up finishing a beautiful play set up by John Tavares behind the net. Ryan Callahan, Carl Hagelin and Ryan McDonagh were all in the area, but Moulson was allowed to sit uncontested at the top of the crease – cannot happen.

Just over two minutes later, Marty Biron allowed a very soft goal when P.A. Parenteau’s slapper from the top of the circle hit the back of the net despite no screen or deflection on the shot. So thanks to faulty defensive coverage and ugly goaltending by Biron, the Rangers quickly found themselves in a 2-0 hole.

Marc Staal would come up with a huge goal in the second half of the first period, though, to cut the deficit to just one goal before the buzzer sounded. That goal, actually, would come on the powerplay and it wouldn’t be the only one.

At 8:11 of the middle period, Parenteau would score again on a powerplay that came from a penalty on Michael Del Zotto that I’ve never seen before. Del Zotto attempted to slide a loose stick to Brian Boyle, which apparently is illegal according to the rulebook, and so the Isles went to the powerplay. They then outworked the Rangers, and the result of the play was Parenteau’s goal.

The Rangers battled back to tie the game with back-to-back goals from Marian Gaborik and Derek Stepan within the period. Gaborik’s came on a breakaway off a beautiful headman pass by Artem Anisimov out of the defensive zone. The next was a powerplay tally by Derek Stepan, which was a shot from the circle that went off Isles defenseman Travis Hamonic and into the net. At that point the game was tied at 3, and that tie would hold through the third period, as this one would need extra time to decide. 

Despite some powerplay and 3-on-3 time, neither team was able to end the game in overtime, so to a shootout we went, where head coach John Tortorella cost his team the game. I was fine with the choice to shoot Marian Gaborik and Ryan Callahan in the shootout, but Richards was 0-for-7 at the time and John Mitchell has not scored in one of these yet this season. You have Del Zotto, Hagelin, Anisimov and many others still on the bench, but Richards and Mitchell are your choices. I hate to say it, but Tortorella cost his team the game with these shootout decisions.

Frans Nielsen and Matt Moulson both beat Biron low to override Gaborik’s sole tally for the Rangers in the skills competition, to secure the win for the Islanders.

Biron was shaky to open the game, but I think he buckled down a bit and made some important saves as the game went on. Granted the Rangers played some solid defense in front of him in the second and third periods, I did think Biron made some solid stops tonight. As for his performance in the shootout, well, I think the score speaks for itself there.

One thing you cannot pin this loss on is lack of goal scoring, which has been the case in recent losses. There’s not much Rick Nash could’ve done to turn this game around for the Rangers, so I don’t think you can bring that argument into play here.

The powerplay performed well tonight, but it would’ve been nice to see the man advantage last the full two minutes in overtime before Stepan nullified that with a foolish hooking penalty on John Tavares. Is it possible Tortorella held back from using Stepan in the shootout because of that penalty? You bet.

Marian Gaborik had a hell of a night for the Rangers on offense. He finished with a goal and an assist, and also was the only player to score for the good guys in the shootout. In fact, his entire line played well tonight, and I think those three should’ve been the ones to go in the shootout.

Give the Rangers credit for battling back after their slow start in this one and getting a point out of it. They will be right back at it tomorrow against the Sabres at MSG, in a game that they will try to avoid losing four out of their last five. You must wonder what is going through the mind of GM Glen Sather right now, and if tomorrow’s result will force him to pull the trigger on some sort of deal.

We did say that the Rick Nash ordeal would come down to these two games, and so far the team is 0–for-1.

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