Henrik Lundqvist made 17 saves while Marc Staal and Brian Boyle scored to lead the Rangers to a 2-0 win over the Islanders Friday night at Madison Square Garden. The win completed a sweep of the home and home series for the Rangers.
For the Islanders, it was a frustrating game filled with only 17 shots on goal, missed opportunities and questionable penalty calls. The result was their 16th loss in their last 17 games.
“We had opportunities, we had guys at the net and we just didn’t want to throw pucks there, for whatever reason,” said Islanders Coach Jack Capuano. “It’s frustrating. We had opportunities on some rushes and we tried the extra move or the extra cross ice pass and it didn’t result in any opportunities for us. We’ve just got to get pucks on net. We can’t have [less than] 20 shots in a game.”
Both teams played more cautiously tonight, perhaps trying to correct the mistakes and turnovers that led to Thursday night’s wide open 6-5 Rangers win. In the first period, the Rangers managed only six shots on goal, the Islanders only three.
“I think coming from last night when a lot of things happened, we wanted to come back and have a solid performance defensively,” Lundqvist explained. “We did a lot of good things but we didn’t take a lot of chances. I kind of knew this was going to be the game after what happened last night.”
The game winning goal came on a Rangers power play. Islanders forward Jon Sim was called for goaltender interference although replays clearly showed Sim was pushed into the crease on the play.
“Fedotenko pushed me in,” Sim said after the game. “There were some questionable calls but they [the referees] can make their judgment…It’s a marginal call.”
The Rangers had good puck movement on the power play until Staal lifted a hard shot from the point which beat Isles starter Dwayne Roloson.
“I didn’t see it,” Roloson admitted. “Marc made a nice shot, top corner from the point. It gets through and it’s one of those things where you hope it hits you because you don’t see it. I was just trying to get into position where it might be.”
Staal’s goal held up until Boyle scored an empty net goal in the game’s final seconds. The Islanders best chance in the third period came when defenseman Jack Hillen’s shot clanked off the far post behind Lundqvist.
The Islanders continued to struggle on the power play, going 0-for-2. They have not converted on their last 32 chances with the man advantage over the past 10 games.
Capuano is losing patience with his team’s struggles with the extra man.
“I’m not going to waste around with the same personnel,” he said. “If guys aren’t going to do it, other guys are going to play. We’ve gone over this now. I don’t mind not scoring on the power play as long as we’re doing what we’re asking them to do and if it’s five defensemen or five rookies, it doesn’t matter at this point.”
The Islanders next game will be Sunday afternoon at the Nassau Coliseum when they host the Philadelphia Flyers.
This was the Rangers first sweep of a home and home against the Islanders since March 28 and 29 of 2001 when the Rangers won at MSG 4-2 before a 4-1 win the next night on Long Island.
This was Lundqvist’s 28th career shutout and his third against the Islanders.
Todd White and Matt Gilroy were the Rangers scratches while the Isles sat out Bruno Gervais, Doug Weight and Dylan Reese.
Jack Hillen returned to the Isles lineup for the first time since November 11.
Isles forward Jesse Joensuu took an unusual penalty after his first period fight with Ryan Callahan. Joensuu received a two minute instigator penalty, five minutes for fighting and a 10 minute misconduct. He was also given an additional minor penalty for instigating while wearing a visor.