This is a game you simply cannot blow.
The Rangers looked like they were on their way to increasing their cushion the Metropolitan Division playoff race. Then it all fell apart.
The Islanders scored four unanswered goals on Cam Talbot, starting for Henrik Lundqvist as a result of the flu. The dagger came on a Thomas Vanek power play goal late in the third period after the Rangers took an unconscionable too-many-men on the ice penalty.
For the Rangers’ sake, they’d better hope this loss doesn’t come back to bite them later on this season. Although they jumped out to a 2-0 lead on two Rick Nash goals, they were still being outplayed. As the game progressed, the Rangers got more and more lax in both zones, and allowed Islanders goaltender Kevin Poulin to morph into Patrick Roy.
Yes, the Rangers ultimately deserved to lose this game. But any time you have a two-goal lead on a last-place team, much less an arch-rival, blowing it is simply brutal and very difficult to take if you are a Ranger fan.
Now it is on to Thursday, when the Rangers will face the St. Louis Blues in their last game before the Stadium Series. If they bring the same lack of intensity and focus they displayed against the Islanders, they will get blown out of the building by one of the league’s best teams.
All in all, it’s just one game out of 82. But when you blow a game like this to an arch-rival, it hurts twice as much.