If you were an Islanders fan watching last night’s game in 3D, it wasn’t just the funny glasses making you feel nauseous.
Instead of gaining ground in the Eastern Conference standings and crippling their cross-town rivals’ playoff chances, the Islanders practically granted the Rangers a time-share in their own end during a dreadful first period that left them trailing by three goals and ultimately spelled their demise--a 5-0 rout at Madison Square Garden.
With almost unlimited access to goaltender Dwayne Roloson and numerous rushes, a desperate Blueshirt bunch took a 3-0 lead before the midway point of the opening frame.
After a few scuffles and a couple of early Rangers goals, rookie defenseman Michael Del Zotto converted a no-look, cross-ice pass from Marian Gaborik to tally a power-play goal at 8:30.
“Embarrassing,” alternate captain Kyle Okposo said. “That’s the only word for it.”
The Rangers carved up a porous Islanders defense, hoarding the scoring chances in the first frame and shelling goaltender Dwayne Roloson with 15 shots.
"He is probably the only guy that can walk out of here with his head held high and know that he played a good game," coach Scott Gordon said about his 40-year-old goaltender.
Artem Anisimov scored his first goal in nine games at 3:12 and Gaborik netted one of his own after Roloson did his best to staunch an odd-man rush.
Although Roloson denied Marc Staal in front, Brandon Dubinsky retrieved the puck behind the net and connected with the Slovak sniper for his 38th of the season at 5:45.
“It was a really bad effort,” Mark Streit said. “It was a bad start, a bad second period, and after that the game was pretty much over.”
After being outshot by the Rangers 32-13 through two periods, a depleted Islanders defense gave up two more goals in the third.
Forced to play virtually the entire third with only five defenseman after Dustin Kohn left the ice with a head injury, the Islanders coughed up a pair—first to Gaborik at 10:44 then to Dan Girardi while down a man with 3:41 to play.
Heading into last night’s game, the Rangers led the Islanders by only three points in the standings. The Islanders now face a cold reality. With nine games remaining, they are 10 points removed from 8th place Boston.
Spoiler to the Rangers? Not quite.
“We obviously didn’t come to play,” Gordon said. “It was probably our worst game of the year.”