Game #19: Islanders again beat the Rangers in wild 7-5 shootout

How would I describe the latest Rangers’ defeat at the hands of their kryptonite, the Islanders? Like this following their 7-5 home win on a snowy night that was highlighted by world beater Anthony Beauvillier’s first career hat trick.

I had a few other choice words following a very frustrating second period that saw them melt on the ice at Barclays Center. Let’s just say some of it isn’t fit for print. How many times can this team lose to their biggest rivals? Better yet. Why must they turn mere mortals into superstars every time they lose to this team? Beauvillier had only one goal entering tonight’s match. He quadrupled it. Thomas Greiss played the role of Jaro Halak by stopping everything when the Islanders needed it. I forget how many shots he faced. I don’t care like looking.

It would seem to me that if they actually got off to a good start by getting the game’s first two goals from Chris Kreider and Fredrik Claesson 35 seconds apart, things totally unraveled. They let the Isles score six of the next seven goals. It was embarrassing. Islander players were allowed to get open and score on tips without paying the price. No Ranger knocked them down or lifted their sticks.

Following a Kreider rebound goal of a Neal Pionk shot and a Claesson laser through a Jimmy Vesey screen high glove, here came the gritty Isles. First, Beauvillier parked himself in front after Tony DeAngelo let him go so that he could tip home a Thomas Hickey point shot. Just 63 seconds later, Brock Nelson did the same exact thing off a Nick Leddy shot with token resistance to tie the score.

Then came the absurd with veteran referee Dan O’Halloran erroneously sending Mika Zibanejad off for a four-minute double minor for high-sticking Leo Komarov. But when they returned from the break, MSG conclusively showed that it wasn’t Zibanejad who cut Komarov. But rather, his own teammate. With Quinn hot under the collar at the awful call, his team picked up Zibanejad by successfully killing off the double minor.

The ineptitude of the officials was just getting started. A brutal giveaway from Vesey, who tried one of those low percentage passes up the middle inside the Islanders zone, led directly to Valtteri Filppula and Hickey combining to lead Beauvillier for a breakaway goal short side on Henrik Lundqvist for three consecutive Islanders goals. Awful would be how to describe it.

Trailing for the first time with the useless Vinni Lettieri in the box for interference, Kevin Hayes scored his second shorthanded goal of the season to tie the score at three. Following a good defensive play, he broke out and used Claesson driving the net to shoot through a screen to beat Greiss for his fourth at 3:21 unassisted to answer Beauvillier 57 seconds later.

But then came an atrocious call by the refs, who may as well have been wearing blue and orange Isles colors. Somehow, they whistled Skjei for interference after Anders Lee just fell to the ice. The minor penalty drew the ire of a fuming Quinn. He was already not happy. Of course, Beauvillier completed the hat trick when he was allowed to easily redirect Johnny Boychuk’s wide shot past Lundqvist for a 4-3 Islanders lead. Marc Staal was occupied with Jordan Eberle while Pionk lost his man for an easy goal.

It wasn’t like the Blueshirts didn’t have opportunities to tie it. They sure did following another soft call on Nelson for a phantom hold on Brett Howden. Already having cashed in once on Kreider’s early power play goal, they worked the puck around and got some great looks. However, Greiss would t allow them to even it. He made at least a half dozen big saves with his best coming on Hayes when he got just enough of his shot to send it off the crossbar. That close to tying the score.

Instead, the Islanders capitalized on a Kreider minor for tripping on yet another deflection. This time, it was Lee who got free and tipped home a Leddy shot for a 5-3 lead with 5:56 left in the period.

Alexandar Georgiev replaced a blameless Lundqvist for the third. He made a couple of big saves, but was left to fend for himself while Komarov could e had a ham sandwich while steering in a rebound from Filppula and Beauvillier, who recorded his fourth point.

Suddenly down 6-3, the Rangers didn’t give up. Instead, they fought back on goals from Kreider (top shelf for team best 10th) and rookie Filip Chytil’s second in two games on a rebound from Vladislav Namestnikov and Kevin Shattenkirk to make it 6-5 with 2:29 left in regulation.

But that’s as close as they got. They didn’t even set up a shot with Georgiev on the bench for an extra attacker. Instead, Cal Clutterbuck sealed it with an empty netter from Nelson at 19:39.

I’m not gonna hand out any stars following that debacle. Even if I liked the way Hayes, Kreider and Claesson played along with Mats Zuccarello (7 shots) and Chytil, it’s not enough to sing their praises. Especially when they reminded me of Bill Murray’s Phil character in Groundhog Day. I’m too disgusted. I’m tired of losing to that team.

I’ll end this rant with our coach’s classic reaction to O’Halloran apologizing before the third.

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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