It was just a preseason game, the Rangers’ fourth under their new coach, Peter Laviolette. There are new offensive and defensive systems being installed, which the players are still learning. And there was a furious third-period near-comeback.
But a seething Laviolette wasn’t interested in making excuses on Saturday night after the Rangers lost to the Islanders, 5-3, at UBS Arena.
“Listen, backchecking is a universal language,’’ he said. “There’s no system involved there. Finishing your checks and competing for pucks is a universal language. Execution has to be a universal language. And so there’s no excuses for that.
“There are some systems things we’ll continue to look at, and work at it,’’ he said. "I thought that there were some mistakes defensively, some mistakes in the neutral zone, some mistakes at the offensive blue line. So we’ll look at that. But that doesn’t let [the team] off the hook for the rest of it.’’
The Rangers trailed 3-0 after one period and 4-0 after two before Brennan Othmann’s second goal of the preseason at 5:07 of the third. Goals by Barclay Goodrow and Will Cuylle pulled them within 4-3 with 50 seconds left before Anders Lee’s empty-net goal with 7.2 seconds left ended it.
“Not the start we wanted, rally at the end,’’ Laviolette said with a flat expression. “It was not good — at all. There’s just way too much missing in the first period. Mildly better in the second but not good enough, and then in the third period we decided to work and compete . . . That’s unacceptable, the first half of that game. It’s not who we are or who we want to be.’’
“Obviously, we didn’t like the start,’’ Jacob Trouba said. “We talked about, in between periods, just taking some positive out of the third period and get to playing the way we know how. So I think it’s good to see that we know how to play hockey, but [we] need to start that way.’’