The Islanders came out of the All-Star break without alternate captain Kyle Okposo but that didn’t seem to be an issue as they beat their local rival, the New York Rangers 4-1.
Mikhail Grabovski returned to the lineup after missing the previous five games with a lower body injury. He replaced Okposo on the first line and scored the game’s first goal. After Johnny Boychuk broke up a Rangers rush, he stormed back the other way leading a 4-2 opportunity. He fed Tavares who sent it across ice to Josh Bailey back to Boychuk then again to Bailey who found a wide-open Grabovski. It was a play that stunned the raucous crowd at Nassau Coliseum.
“When you are out for a while and play against a team like that I thought he (Grabovski) did real well,” head coach Jack Capuano said following the Islanders third win against the Rangers this season. “I thought his conditioning was real good and he got a big goal for us.”
Despite the snowstorm that hit Long Island pretty hard the fans came out and packed Nassau Coliseum. It was the 12th sell-out of the season for the Islanders.
“The atmosphere in this building was tremendous, “Capuano continued. “We were just feeding off our fans here tonight and that was big a part of our win.”
After posting a shutout the last time these two teams met, Jaroslav Halak came within seconds of doing it again. Carl Hagelin scored with 8.1 seconds remaining to get the Rangers on the board but it was not nearly enough.
“It was obviously disappointing but we got the win,” Halak said after his 26th victory of the season. “Its not like it was a one-goal game where I would be more upset but hopefully next time I will have more luck at the end.”
Halak was not the only one who played goalie tonight as Johnny Boychuk had a number of blocked shots. When asked what his best save of the night was Jaro replied, “I don’t know, Johnny had a few, he had like three or four. Especially in the first period he blocked a lot of shots.”
The team has certainly appreciated Halak’s effort between the pipes.
“He is just so good at that first shot,” captain John Tavares said. “Controlling pucks and rebounds and making it easy for us to regroup and take away those second and third opportunities.”
The Islanders got contributions from everyone on the roster tonight which will be needed going forward. The team got the two points they needed but overall they were not pleased with the way they played.
“We found a way to win and that’s what good teams do,” Capuano said. “I know certain guys in that room know they need to be better. We did some good things and when your goalie steals a game for you like that it’s a big plus for us.”
Next, the Islanders will face the Boston Bruins on Thursday evening at Nassau Coliseum.
By: Scott Charles
WLIE 540 AM SPORTSTALKNY Staff Writer
Islanders Insight Senior Editor
Follow us on Twitter @sportstalkny and @Scottmcharles
Tune in each week on 540 am in NY NJ CT and streaming on www.sportstalknyradio.com at 7pm Sundays for the live broadcast. Please take a moment to like our fan page WLIE 540 AM SPORTSTALKNY, check out the show's YOUTUBE Page "SPORTSTALKNY" and the facebook fan page https://www.facebook.com/SPORTSTALKNY