So he decided to give them a bit of positive reinforcement the
best way he knew how: by scoring a goal.
Vanek's power-play goal 1:18 into the third powered the New York
Islanders to a 5-3 win over the New York Rangers at Madison Square
Garden on Friday night.
"I think right now, the way we've been going, we've been playing a
lot of good hockey but we're giving up leads and losing games late,"
Vanek said. "I think it wears on guys, so when we do get the lead,
we almost sit back instead of playing the game we know how to play.
"At the end, I thought we played well and deserved the two points."
Right winger Michael Grabner scored twice and right winger Cal
Clutterbuck and defenseman Brian Strait also scored for the
Islanders, who improved to 10-19-7. Evgeni Nabokov made 21 saves.
"For us to have success, we have to get secondary scoring,"
Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "It's big for us and hopefully
that will continue as well."
The Rangers fell to 16-18-2, despite receiving goals from left
winger Benoit Pouliot, right winger Derek Dorsett and center Derek
"It's a little frustrating," Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi said.
"We are trying to do the right thing, trying to get the job done and
play with the lead, but unfortunately we didn't tonight."
Tied at 3, and on a 5-on-3 power play to start the third due to
Rangers right winger Chris Kreider and defenseman Dan Girardi in the
box for interference, Vanek deftly tipped right winger Kyle Okposo's
centering feed from the point under Henrik Lundqvist for what turned
out to be the game-winning goal.
"It's just a play we work on," Vanek said. "It's something that I've
been doing for years. Kyle sold the shot (well), made a shot/pass
over and had a good tip on it; (Lundqvist) actually made a good
save, just went through him."
Lundqvist allowed four goals on 15 shots.
"Those are grade-A chances," Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said
of the goals Lundqvist allowed. "I'm sure he tried the best that he
could but he just couldn't make the save."
Vanek's goal capped a wild, back-and-forth affair that saw both
teams trade scoring chances and momentum swings throughout.
The Islanders went into the first intermission with a 2-1 lead due
to scoring two shorthanded goals in a span of 3:27. Clutterbuck was
awarded a penalty shot with 5:18 left in the period after Rangers
defenseman Ryan McDonagh was called for hooking him on a breakaway,
and snapped a low shot that eluded Lundqvist in the ensuing
Three minutes and 27 seconds later, the lead was 2-0 after Grabner
scored his first goal since opening night, and just his third of the
season, on an unassisted breakaway. The play began with Grabner
taking the puck away from McDonagh in the defensive zone, and using
his world-class speed to create the scoring chance.
"We had a pretty good game plan going in, how to use our speed and
how to create our forecheck," Grabner said. "I think it worked
The Islanders' lead lasted for 30 seconds.
[to top of second column]
Pouliot's power-play goal 30 seconds later cut the deficit in
half. His fourth of the season concluded a tic-tac-toe passing
sequence with Kreider and center Derick Brassard.
Dorsett drew the Rangers even three minutes into the second
period with an off-angled shot that eluded Nabokov, who was
partially screened by Rangers center Brian Boyle. Dorsett's
goal, his third of the season, marked the third time in three
games that the Rangers tied an opponent after falling behind by
The Islanders had an opportunity midway through the second to
regain a two-goal advantage and, naturally, it occurred while
shorthanded. Twelve seconds after Clutterbuck was called for
cross-checking Dorsett, Grabner broke in on Lundqvist but his
wrist shot hit the crossbar.
"I think I had a pretty good move," Grabner said. "I guess I put
it too high."
It proved costly when Stepan's power-play goal 1:06 later gave
the Rangers their first lead of the game, 3-2.
It didn't last.
Strait tied the game at 3-3 three minutes and eight seconds
later with his first of the season. It stayed that way until
Grabner added an empty-netter with 50 seconds remaining.
The Islanders went 1-for-4 on the power play. The Rangers
finished 2-for-7 with the man advantage.
"We got unlucky a little bit on the power play," Vigneault said.
"We gave the team that has a tremendous amount of speed in their
penalty killers grade-A scoring chances and they made us pay for
The rivals meet three more times this season. Two of those games
will be contested at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 21 and Jan.
NOTES: The Islanders entered Friday night's game having lost 13
of their last 15. "We've lost some games, obviously. Some tough
losses," Capuano said after his team's morning skate at Madison
Square Garden. "We have to try to find a way (to win). Some of
the ways we've been losing is tough to explain." ... Rangers C
J.T. Miller began the game centering a line with Brad Richards
and Benoit Pouliot. "(Assistant Jim Schoenfeld) and I talked to
(AHL Hartford Wolfpack coach Ken Gernander) and (he said]) J.T.
was playing well, real well, at both ends of the rink,"
Vigneault said. "They were using him at center and we just felt,
after discussing where we (are) at this time, it might be a good
time to give him a look. With the (NHL holiday roster) freeze,
he's here until at least (Dec. 27)." ... With the start, Henrik
Lundqvist took sole possession of third place on the Rangers
all-time list for goaltender appearances with 539. Only Mike
Richter (666) and Gump Worsley (582) have played in more games
as a Ranger than Lundqvist. ... Before the game, the Rangers
unveiled the jerseys they will wear at the Jan. 26 and Jan. 29
Stadium Series games at Yankee Stadium against the Islanders and
New Jersey Devils, respectively.
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