Uniondale, NY — John Tortorella has to be concerned about the poor starts his New York Rangers have made in recent games. Tonight was no exception as the New York Islanders were too fast out of the gate, scoring on 2 of the first 4 shots, on the way to a 4-3 shootout win.
Isles’ center John Tavares was the difference-maker early as he forced Ranger Michael Del Zotto to commit behind the net, and then feathered a beautiful pass under Ryan Callahan’s stick onto the tape of Matt Moulson. He wasted no time putting it past Martin Biron for his 26th of the season.
While some of the Rangers players thought they played well and were content with the point, the coach was not.
“Sure we’re happy we got a point, but we are one sloppy hockey team right now,” Tortorella said.
“At this time of year we got to get out of it quickly.”
When told that some of the players didn’t think the start was as bad as it looked, he responded: “That’s why ‘sloppy.
“We’re forgetting the way we have do things,” adding that he’d “like those names afterwards”.
Much like the game against the Chicago Blackhawks last Thursday, the goals would come quickly. A little over two and a half minutes later, former Ranger PA Parenteau netted his 13th of the season off a perfect feed from Tavares.
Brian Boyle was visibly upset on the bench, and still was bothered by the goal long after the game.
“I need to be better,” he said. “I know they got their second goal right after I had an open net in front in the first.
“I could have tied [the game] there and then they come down that shift and score.
“But the way we battled back was good,” Boyle added. “You face adversity sometimes and we didn’t play as well as we wanted to, but by the third period we were.”
The Rangers bounced back quickly and scored a critical power goal from Marc Staal at 12:47 of the first period to cut the deficit in half.
Martin Biron seemed to regain his confidence after a big glove save on a shot by Mark Eaton.
The period would end with the Rangers trailing 2-1 but seemingly controlling play, outshooting the Islanders 11 to 5.
If coach Tortorella wasn’t pleased with some of the decisions Del Zotto made in the last game, one can only imagine what he felt when the defenseman pushed Boyle’s dropped stick along the ice, resulting in an Islanders’ powerplay at the 6:29 mark of the second period.
Once again, Parenteau came back to haunt his ex teammates, with his second of the game giving the Islanders a 3-1 lead.
When asked about the play after the game, Boyle said: “A bunch of us in here didn’t know that that’s a penalty.
“I know you can’t play with two sticks.”
Tortorella was not pleased that his players were not aware of the rule.
“He needs to know that rule,” he said, when informed that some of the players did not know the rule. “That scares the hell out of me.”
For the Rangers to go far in the playoffs, they will need their best players to score big goals.
Forward Marian Gaborik seemed to step up his game and got the Rangers back to within one goal at 11:49 in the second period – his team-leading 28th tally of the season.
The other key ingredient to a deep run in the playoffs is scoring on the power play. Islander rookie Casey Cizikas, in his first NHL game, took a hooking penalty later in the second period. 25 seconds later Derek Stepan would convert on the power play to tie the game at 3-3 with his 13th goal of season, setting up a big third period.
Both teams had chances in the third period, but would come up empty, forcing overtime. But the extra frame solved nothing and the game headed to a shootout.
On the advice of former Ranger Parenteau, Frans Nielsen scored on the first attempt, opting to shot forward rather than backhand.
When Biron was asked if he was expecting the backhander, he said: “I can’t lie, it’s like one of those cat and mouse games.”
“He comes in exactly the same way as if he was going to do it.
“He caught me obviously. I was very surprised.”
Marian Gaborik tallied the equalizer only to have Moulson score the game winner in the fourth round, after misses from Tavares, Ryan Callahan, Parenteau and Brad Richards, whose shootout woes continue.
The Rangers get a chance to start cleaning up their game Saturday at Madison Square Garden against the Buffalo Sabres.