Bronx, New York—The second 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series contest at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night was a sell-out just as the game played at the historic venue three days earlier. A crowd of 50,027 filled the seats to watch the two locals, New York Rangers and New York Islanders, play the first of two games this week, under the lights.
After the exciting and hard fought game concluded, an elated NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters, “It’s been a memorable month of special events, three outdoor games in five days with more than 150,000 fans. This is a season we’ll all remember.” Not surprised by more than 50,000 attending a night game outdoors with temperatures in the 20’s, the commissioner commented, “Nobody braves the elements like hockey fans.”
The teams played with caution early in the contest. Unlike the high scoring game on Sunday afternoon, the first goal on Wednesday night was not scored until Islanders center Brock Nelson netted the puck with assists from Matt Donovan and Cal Clutterbuck at 18:33 of the 20 minute second period.
A goal by Benoit Pouliot on assists by Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarllo tied the score 30 seconds after the first goal was scored.
The game winning goal was not scored until 4:36 of the third period. Daniel Carcillo netted the puck, his second as a Ranger, on assists from Dominic Moore and Brian Boyle. Carcillo did not become a Ranger until earlier in the month when he was traded by the L.A. Kings. His first game with the Rangers was on January 8.
Ranger coach Alain Vigneault gave credit to the newcomer and other unsung contributors in a post-game press conference, “He [Carcillo] brings energy. You need contributions from your whole lineup. In an 82 game schedule, different guys have to step up.”
Both goalies, Henrik Lundquist of the Rangers and Evgeni Nabokov of the islanders, played outstandingly, but the hero’s mantle went to the winner, Lundquist. The Ranger goalie stopped 30 shots, and only let one get in the net.
He believed playing one game outdoors earlier in the week benefited him, “I felt a lot more calm. I felt more relaxed. For me, it was just about doing my job.”
The Swedish Olympian expressed his joyous reaction to the occasion, “It was another amazing night. It’s a great stadium, but you need the fans to show up to make it special. [It was] everything I hoped for, two wins, two sold out crowds, the atmosphere. It was two days I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Islander coach Jack Capuano, despite his team’s fourth straight loss, spoke positively about his team’s current play, “I think we play well, we’re just not getting the results. We’re playing well enough to win; we just have to find a way to win.”
Vigneault praised his team, which has won 8 of its last 11 games, “We’re in a one game at a time mentality. We’re defending better. It took a lot of courage to do those things [block shots] on this kind of day. Our speed is a big weapon and I think we’re using that element better.”
The Rangers and the Islanders face off again in their next game on Friday night, January 31. Each them plays only three more games before the Olympic break.