Following their 4-3 win over the Penguins on Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders are back in action on Monday night when they take on the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. This will be the third meeting of the season between the local rivals and the Islanders head into this game with a bit of a chip on their shoulders.
Back on January 14th, the Islanders opened their season with a 4-0 win over the Rangers at MSG. But, two nights later, the Blueshirts responded by thumping the Islanders 5-0 in game two. That Saturday night for the Islanders was disastrous from before the start of the game all the way to the end. During warmups, Semyon Varlamov was injured so Ilya Sorokin made his NHL debut on short notice.
The Islanders didn’t play well in front of Sorokin as they made several costly errors and it led to the Rangers flipping the script from two nights earlier.
“It just shows that whoever doesn’t show up is in trouble,” said Islanders forward Casey Cizikas. “We played really well the first game and they came out (in the second game) with a little bit of fire and kind of took it to us and we didn’t really have a response. We left Ilya (Sorokin) out to dry. That’s kind of in the back of our minds. We want redemption for that game and we want to come out and continue this good feeling we have right now.”
Islanders Eager For Another Shot At The Rangers:
That loss to the Rangers in the second game of the season left a bad taste in the Islanders’ mouths as it was self-inflicted wounds that told the story that night. The overall numbers that night weren’t horrible as the Islanders blocked 20 shots, outhit the Rangers 31-22, and killed off 7 out of 8 Ranger power plays. But it was a series of individual miscues that led the Islanders to a loss that they are still thinking about.
“You want to get that one back,” said Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz. “I think we were feeling pretty good going into that game. It wasn’t necessarily the team play. Our team play wasn’t as horrible as the score. It was individual plays. Those catastrophic type of plays, turnovers, passing it to the other team. A couple of times we were color blind.”
One player that is looking forward to another crack at the Rangers is Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck. During warmups that night, it was his shot during warmups that injured Varlamov.
It’s not that Clutterbuck was trying to injure his teammate, but he was certainly a bit reckless in the type of shot he took.
“It’s almost unacceptable,” said Trotz after the game on January 16th. “It’s like running your quarterback over in warmup. Players have to remember that your goaltender is almost the most important player on your team and you gotta get him warmed up. Guys are not thinking.”
Coming Off A Win, The Islanders Look To Build Momentum Against The Rangers:
But now Clutterbuck is feeling better about things. His came through with the game-tying goal in the third period against the Penguins on Saturday night and now the Islanders are hoping to ride the positives of that victory into tonight’s matchup in Manhattan as the Islanders look to extend their point streak to four games.
“I think more than anything else we’re just looking to start to build some momentum here as a group,” said Clutterbuck. “We’re trying to build on our game and try to put a couple together and just go out there and play the way we need to play in order to be successful. I think we just need to realize who we are. I think we know who we are.”
What the Islanders are right now is a team at NHL .500 with a record of 4-4-2 and ten points which has them in 6th place in the East Division but just a point back of the Penguins for the playoff spot with another game against Pittsburgh looming on Thursday night at the Coliseum. But first things first…the Islanders have their sights set on round three of the battle of New York with hopes of recapturing the type of game they had in the season opener against the Rangers as opposed to the brutal performance they displayed two nights later.