The New York Rangers were riding high coming into Tuesday night’s contest against the rival New York Islanders. The Rangers were winners of three straight and were 11-3-1 in their last 15 games. They had the momentum and they even got out to an early lead. But they let that slip away and lost to the Islanders 5-3 for the second time at Madison Square Garden this season.
Defense and puck possession have been the recipe for success over the last 15 games for the Rangers. They had gone seven straight games without giving up more than two goals, but Tuesday night the play in their own end was horrible and was what eventually led to the loss.
Even though the Rangers were winning 2-0 it felt like they should have been losing. The Islanders were taking it to the Rangers’ defense, especially Michael Del Zotto and John Moore. The Islanders did a masterful job of getting two men on the puck and making it hard for the Rangers to make breakout passes.
The wingers also did a pitiful job of getting to loose pucks. The Islanders’ defensemen did a good job in pinching down when the Rangers’ wingers got the puck or were going for the puck. These pinches would lead to scoring chances and the Islanders buried those opportunities because of that. Too many players were already breaking out of the zone and then a turnover would occur.
A loss to the Islanders is bad enough, but the Rangers gave this game away. They didn’t bury the Islanders when they had the chance and gave up too many chances. They dug their own grave because of their pitiful defensive zone play.