Loss to Rangers ‘unacceptable’ for Isles
The New York Islanders’ first game in over a calendar year against their arch rivals from Manhattan began with a bang and ended with a series of disheartening thuds.
“It’s unacceptable,” Isles captain Anders Lee lamented after watching the New York Rangers score six unanswered goals en route to a 6-2 victory over the Brooklyn/Long Island-based franchise in front of 17,403 fans Monday night at Madison Square Garden.
“These are the games we get up for,” Lee added after the Isles had their three-game points streak snapped in their first meeting with the Rangers since Jan. 12, 2019.
It was hard to question the Isles’ resolve after they opened the game in a flurry, taking a quick 1-0 lead on Jordan Eberle’s goal just 18 seconds into play.
But the Rangers, spearheaded by superstar free-agent signee Artemi Panarin’s career high-tying five-point night, came roaring back with the equalizer eight minutes later off the stick of Jesper Fast and never looked back.
Alexandar Georgiev stopped all but two of the Isles’ 32 shots on goal, and Panarin, who spurned the Isles to sign with their crosstown rivals for seven years and $81.5 million this summer, finished with two goals and three assists.
“Every now and then he one-ups himself, and he did that again tonight,” Rangers Head Coach David Quinn said of Panarin.
“When you think you’ve seen it all, he just does so many great things out there for us.”
Jacob Trouba’s power-play goal with 9:45 left in the third period made it 6-1 before Brock Nelson saved a little face for the Isles with a man-advantage tally of his own with 7:12 remaining.
“We started fine and obviously, we scored really early,” Isles Head Coach Barry Trotz said after watching his team surrender more than five goals for just the third time this year.
“I thought then, for us as far as the puck management was terrible,” Trotz added. “Their top guys were better than some of our top guys. I thought our level of battle wasn’t where I expected it to be tonight. That being said, we got what we deserved.”
What they deserved was a second straight defeat and fourth in six games heading into Tuesday night’s game vs. Detroit at the renovated Nassau Coliseum.
“Any time you lay an egg it’s disappointing,” Eberle ceded. “The best part is we have a good group of guys here and a lot of character. I don’t expect this to flop over to [Tuesday night]. We’ll be ready to go.”
Eberle finished with a goal and an assist on Nelson’s tally, and Semyon Varlamov stopped 29 shots while surrendering all six goals for the Isles, who were coming off Saturday’s 3-2 overtime loss to Boston at Downtown’s Barclays Center.
“I thought it went south for us on the [Rangers’] first and second goal,” Trotz said. “They got momentum off of that. We just didn’t manage it well. We gave up way too many odd-man rushes.
“We haven’t given that many odd-man rushes in a long, long time. That’s on us. We have some guys that want to play differently than we want to play or that we need to play against a team like this. We just couldn’t do what we needed to tonight.”
The Isles and Rangers traded punches throughout the first period as well.
Ross Johnston and former Islander Michael Haley and Isles forward Matt Martin and Brendan Smith took turns going at it shortly after Eberle staked the visitors to an early advantage.
Those bad feeling should linger into Thursday night’s rematch in Uniondale, N.Y., as the teams will meet three times in a span of nine days, concluding with another visit to The Garden on Jan. 21.
“There shouldn’t be a question about our effort or we talk about battle and all that, we shouldn’t have to answer a question about that. It should be a no-brainer,” Lee noted.
Isle Have Another: Eberle, playing in his 700th career game, scored for the second time in three games for just his fifth goal of the season. Re-signed as a free agent by General Manager Lou Lamoriello this past summer, Eberle’s two-point night was a bright spot Monday as the Isles need him to start producing at a greater rate. “I think Jordan was really one of the few positives,” Trotz said. “Jordan was creating. He was getting chances. He obviously scored the first goal. I think that’s been coming the last few games. He’s been moving his feet and doing all of the few things we expected him to do.” … The Islanders have gone a mediocre 11-10-2 since ripping off a franchise-record 17-game points streak earlier this season. … Thomas Greiss figured to get the start in net Tuesday night against Detroit after Varlamov was flustered by Panarin and the Rangers throughout Monday’s defeat.
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