Okposo’s shootout goal lifts Islanders past Rangers, 2-1
NEW YORK (AP) — Two months into the New York Islanders’ first season in Brooklyn, a visit from the crosstown-rival New York Rangers provided the most raucous atmosphere in their new home.
Kyle Okposo scored the only goal in the shootout to lift the Islanders to a 2-1 victory Wednesday night.
John Tavares scored in regulation and Jaroslav Halak had 33 saves through overtime and then stopped all three Rangers attempts in the shootout to give the Islanders their fourth win in five games (4-0-1).
“The atmosphere of the game, that was the best we had all year,” Halak said. “It’s always fun to play against the Rangers. It’s a big rivalry for both teams. Obviously I’m glad that we came out on top.”
Viktor Stalberg scored the tying goal in the second period, and Henrik Lundqvist had 36 saves for the Rangers. Despite losing for the fourth time in five games (1-3-1), the Rangers left Barclays Center feeling positive about their performance.
“It was a game we needed for ourselves. A nice, good rivalry in a new building. A lot of hostility, good fans here — half and half — and it was good atmosphere for us to be in to get our game going,” the Rangers’ Dan Girardi said. “We were doing all the little things right. We didn’t get the two points but I think we’re pretty happy with our effort tonight.”
Tavares gave the Islanders the lead with a 5-on-3 power-play goal with 7:38 to go in the second period. As Rangers defensemen Keith Yandle (hooking) and Girardi (delay of game) sat in the penalty box, Tavares cut toward to the slot and snapped his 12th goal of the season past Lundqvist. It was also his 12th score in 32 career games against the Rangers.
The Islanders improved to 11-3-1 in games in which Tavares recorded a point, and 8-1-1 in games in which the first overall pick in the 2009 draft scored a goal.
Stalberg cut to the front of the net and redirected Marc Staal’s shot past Halak to tie it with 1:23 remaining in the period.
The Rangers outshot the Islanders 13-6 in the scoreless first period and were also credited with 11 blocked shots. The Islanders had a 28-15 advantage on shots over the final two periods and overtime.
The Islanders were also 1 for 2 on the power play, while the Rangers finished 0 for 3. The Rangers’ power play struggles were highlighted by a failed 4 on 3 in overtime.
“The PK’s been great,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “The PK not only in overtime but throughout the game, especially the couple (power plays) that they had, I thought we did an excellent job.”
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault pointed to the failed 4-on-3 as being the difference.
“We had some real good looks,” Vigneault said. “We had some good puck movement, good movement by our three forwards that were on the ice and (Dan Boyle). They got some good saves and some good blocked shots. For us that’s probably the game right there, as far as getting two points.”
The teams’ first matchup of the season also marked the Islanders’ second-ever home game against the Rangers in New York City. The first was at Yankee Stadium on Jan. 29, 2014.
Following optional morning skates, both teams spent time spoke with anticipation about the atmosphere inside Barclays Center. And the announced sellout of 15,795 did not disappoint, as they engaged in dueling chants of “Let’s go, Rangers,” and “Let’s go, Islanders,” before the opening face-off. The rival chanting continued throughout the game.
“It was loud,” Capuano said. “It was the loudest game this year for me anyway, and I’m sure for the players here. It was a great atmosphere. I think the fans got their money’s worth. It was up-and-down hockey, we made it interesting obviously (going to) overtime, their power play.
“The game had a little bit of everything.”
NOTES: The Rangers called up Tanner Glass from Hartford of the AHL on Wednesday morning due to Emerson Etem’s illness. In 17 games with Hartford, Glass has two goals and three assists with 23 penalty minutes. Glass skated on a line with J.T. Miller and Oscar Lindberg. ... Vigneault also praised the Islanders’ new arena and tweaked the franchise’s first home, Nassau Coliseum. “It looks real nice, obviously,” Vigneault said. “For us, the coaches, the rooms are a lot bigger than the closet we had in the past.” ... Along with Etem, the Rangers did not have regulars Derek Stepan (broken ribs) and Kevin Klein (oblique) in the lineup. ... The Islanders scratched Brian Strait and Steve Bernier. ... Islanders legends Mike Bossy and Clark Gillies were in attendance.