Dubi and Tambellini give Isles upper hand

On a night where the Islanders were without All-Star netminder Rick DiPietro, the more desperate team from Nassau County came into the Garden and earned a 4-3 shootout victory over the Rangers.

They can credit backup Wade Dubielewicz and rookie Jeff Tambellini as both proved to be the difference between one point and the big two Ted Nolan’s club badly needed to stay afloat in the Eastern playoff race. With the Sabres posting a 5-2 win over the eighth seeded Flyers, it allowed the Isles to pull within three of the final spot. Buffalo has 73 points and trails Philly by one.

Despite being largely outplayed, it was the Islanders who built leads of 1-0 and 3-1 courtesy of goals off the sticks off Blake Comeau, Sean Bergenheim and Trent Hunter. Somehow, the Blueshirts didn’t score in the game’s first five minutes when they swarmed Dubielewicz’ net but fired either into the capable backup or wide.

Instead, they came out of the first trailing by a goal which Comeau banked off a Ranger defenseman. The Isles led despite being outshot 12-6. Usually, when you don’t convert your opportunities in rivalry games such as these, it comes back to bite you. Let’s just say that was the case as the Rangers were forced to play catch up almost the entire night.

That’s because Henrik “Seven Million” Lundqvist played like he had lead up his ass. He stunk most of this game and was the only reason his team trailed by two goals in the second after a Nigel Dawes power play tally knotted it.

So, how long did it take for the Islanders to reclaim the lead? Just 41 seconds later when a Bergenheim wrister from 40 feet beat the just turned 26 year-old overpaid No.1 goalie who came up about as small as possible when DiPietro didn’t play due to the death of his grandmother. Unlike a few intoxicated angry Ranger fans at tonight’s game, condolences go out to Rick and his family.

If Bergenheim’s eighth wasn’t enough to draw fans’ ire, then the next softie Lundqvist managed to give up really stung. Let’s be brutally honest here. King Henrik is the worst puckhandling goalie I’ve ever seen. He makes Mike Richter look like Martin Brodeur. He should never ever be allowed to play the puck because he freezes up and becomes a detriment.

That’s exactly how the Isles got their third goal two minutes later thanks to a dreadful giveaway. Even worse was the routine Hunter stinker Lundqvist allowed to sneak through. Garbage.

This is supposed to be the league’s highest paid goalie? Can anyone explain how our clueless GM somehow bumped Lundqvist from $4.5 million to $7 million on average? What did he do to merit it? He’s won one freaking series. Is he one of the better netminders in the league? Without question. But I never was a fan of handing out a longterm deal such as that and such a hefty raise which will hurt the team’s cap space.

To their credit, the Rangers rallied thanks to Chris Drury’s 22nd less than two minutes later. A shorthanded goal by resurgent rookie Ryan Callahan off some hard work by Scott Gomez got it tied with 14:13 remaining in regulation.

The game would wind up in a shootout only because a routine Ruslan Fedotenko wrister drew the far iron with our franchise goalie napping. Maybe he was daydreaming about all the millions of dollars and slutty models he’ll conquer afterwards. I know. I really shouldn’t but I’ve had enough of Lundqvist losing concentration at key moments this season. It really makes you wonder what’s going on in that head.

You want a real goalie? Watch Brodeur with a no-name defense stand on his head most nights.

Lundqvist got off to a great start this season but has been hot and cold ever since December. I’m tired of the excuses.

Oh. And he also blew the skills competition when our coach finally bought a clue and stuck Dawes out there. Somehow, he got no OT shifts. The same amount as Callahan. Can anyone explain that? Almost like asking what Renney was thinking with eight seconds to go in regulation and an offensive zone draw and he sticks out the fourth line. Are you freaking kidding?!?!?!?!?! Why not use a timeout there and setup a play. Stick Drury out there along with your best forwards and go for the kill.

Not this coach. Btw…this is why I really can’t see this team winning a Cup. Because of these kind of questionable decisions. You want to be one of the best. How about playing to win for a change?

The Isles do it. You want to know why? Cause they have no choice. They got a lot better scoring chances in the final five minutes before the OT.

How about the selection of Michal Rozsival as the fifth shooter? Huh? Where’s Jaromir Jagr or Drury or Callahan? Any of them would’ve been better.

Truthfully, the hungrier team won tonight. They had the better goalie. Not the one who made just 15 saves on 18 shots and allowed Tambellini to beat him for the winner after Bill Guerin’s tying one snuck through in Round Two.

Dubielewicz stole this game finishing with 27 stops. He did it to the Rangers when his team had to win last year and had that miraculous final week to sneak in.

He was better than Lundqvist. How sad.

You could ask a lot of questions based on tonight’s game. And no. I don’t give one iota about the brownie point because it’s a garbage point. Especially when you lose to a shorthanded rival who really has no business being out on the same sheet of ice.

Given how the Rangers played, the goalie was to blame. And btw…I’m with Lenny on Christian Backman. He’s softer than a Hostess Twinkie. Get this guy out. Wow. Is he brutal.

Three Stars:

3rd Star-Ryan Callahan, NYR (SHG-7th goal overall)
2nd Star-Henrik Lundqvist, NYR (let in two bad Isles goals and looked lost)
1st Star-Wade Dubielewicz, NYI (27 saves plus 5 of 6 in shootout)

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of New York administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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