Embarrassing. That’s the only way to describe the Rangers’ 7-2 loss to the Islanders.
Coming out of their league mandated “bye-week” the Rangers should have been rested and energized.
They were neither.
The Islanders jumped out to a five to two shots advantage just two minutes into the game and never looked back.
Anthony Beauvillier made it 1-0 early on when he buried a cross-crease feed from Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle.
But the Blueshirts did well to tie the game minutes later.
Rick Nash retrieved the puck from the corner and wired it to an all-alone-in-front-of-the-net Kevin Hayes. Hayes — who was questionable to play at the start of the day — then absolutely blasted the puck past Jaroslav Halak, into the Islanders’ net.
Unfortunately the Islanders’ weren’t willing to let the Rangers back into the game.
Shane Prince went up the ice in the waning minutes of the period and off the feed from Scott Mayfield lasered the puck past Ondrej Pavelec for the 2-1 lead.
From there it was all down hill for the Blueshirts.
Islanders’ spark plug Mathew Barzal opened the second period with a goal 37 seconds in to widen the visitors’ lead to 3-1.
Barzal then repeated the trick mere moments later for the 4-1 lead.
As the fans began to turn on the Rangers, Beauvillier joined Barzal in the two-goal club by ripping a shot past Pavelec; ending Ondrej’s day and giving the Isles a 5-1 lead.
Henrik Lundqvist entered the fray and after giving his teammates a fiery pep talk, immediately restored order, but the damage was done.
The Blueshirts got one back midway through the third period when Mats Zuccarello sent a shot towards Mika Zibanejad — who was stationed to the side of Halak’s net.
Zibanejad masterfully redirected the shot past Halak, cutting the Islanders’ lead to 6-2, but it was too little too late.
Thomas Hockey and Cal Clutterbuck iced the game with a goal apiece in the final four minutes of play; giving the Islanders’ their 7-2 margin of victory.
BLUESHIRT BULLET POINTS
WRONG SIDE OF THE ISLE: Dating back to the start of the 2014-15 season the Rangers have now lost 11 of their last 14 against the Islanders. Included in that is a humiliating stat. The Islanders are now 10-2 in their last 12 games at Madison Square Garden.
WALL OF JARO: Jaroslav Halak entered the game with an 11-1-0 mark in his last dozen games against Henrik Lundqvist and the Blueshirts. Well, he didn’t initially face Lundqvist but he did improve to 12-1 in his last 13 against the Rangers.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The Blueshirts went two-for-two on the penalty-kill and were one-for-three on the power-play. Special teams were the only time the Rangers actually did positive things on the ice as their five-on-five play was abysmal at best.
The Rangers face Sidney Crosby and the Penguins Sunday (Jan. 14) at PPG Paints Arena. Game time: 7:30 p.m. ET. Broadcast: NBCSN.
Historically the Rangers don’t do well coming off extended breaks.
It showed as the Blueshirts turned in yet another lackluster performance.
After the game Captain Ryan McDonagh said, “right now we don’t want it. Fortunately, we get an opportunity. If we do the same thing tomorrow it’s going to be the same result.”
One can only hope the Blueshirts show more effort against Pittsburgh than they did against the Islanders.