First, there was the brief surge midway through the second period. Then, there was the furious two-goal comeback to tie the score late in the third. But despite erasing leads twice to pull even, the Islanders couldn’t match the Rangers and sniper Marian Gaborik in a sloppy slugfest that dropped them for their 15th loss in 16 games.
With the Rangers trailing by a goal in the second, Gaborik rattled off three of his team’s next four goals—including the game-winner-- for his second hat trick of the season as the Rangers beat the Islanders, 6-5, last night at Nassau Coliseum.
At several points throughout the game, the Islanders flirted with the possibility of recording two straights wins at the Coliseum — a feat they have not managed this season — but in the end, it was merely a tease.
"Every time we seized momentum, they came back and capitalized," said goaltender Rick DiPietro. "It was an up and down game, but in the end a loss is a loss."
The Rangers had plenty to capitalize on—a whopping 25 giveaways by the Islanders-- and they made the most of their opportunities.
“For me it was the giveaways," interim head coach Jack Capuano said. "Four of their goals were from us turning the puck over."
Down 5-3 in the third period, the Islanders answered with goals from Michael Grabner and Blake Comeau to tie it with 5:50 left in regulation, but Gaborik’s third goal sealed the deal a mere 25 seconds later.
"He's got that release. His speed is one thing, but once he gets the puck on his stick he doesn't hesitate at all," said defenseman Andrew MacDonald
The Islanders fell behind early in the first period with a passive display that left them trailing 2-1, but took a lead midway through the second with two straight goals against former Islander goaltender Martin Biron.
Biron was pulled after Matt Moulson scored his team-leading ninth goal at 9:11 and Rob Schremp added another with his one-timer at 12:30.
After Biron was given the hook, the Rangers went on a run sparked by a fluky goal to tie the score at 3.
With Henrik Lundqvist replacing Biron in net, the Rangers scored the equalizer at 13:21 — awarded to Brandon Prust — after Marc Staal's point shot caromed off DiPietro’s stick and banked in after hitting MacDonald’s right hand.
It was that hand that sidelined MacDonald for six weeks until his return last night. It was his first game back since suffering the injury Oct. 21 against Tampa Bay.
After the fortuitous bounce that pulled them even, the Rangers snapped a 3-3 tie later in the second period as Gaborik’s pass intended for Callahan deflected off an Islander in front of the net for a power-play goal at 16:24.
Two more Gaborik goals in the third period spelled the Islanders' fate.
With five days of rest in between their last win — a 2-0 shutout over New Jersey that halted their winless streak at 14 games — the Islanders couldn’t start a streak in the other direction.
The Islanders have strung together consecutive wins this season only once--during a three-game streak from October 16-21.
"There were a lot of swings [in the game] and sloppy play by both sides," said John Tavares, who had two assists. "Both coaches probably aren't too happy with how things went.”