Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Rangers 'Czech Mate' Islanders

The way the game started it looked like the Rangers were going to duplicate their loss in Ottawa. Two goals by Mark Parrish and Trent Hunter had the Islanders up 2-0 after only 7:09 of the opening period. Then Prucha on a breakaway, his 18th, pulled the Rangers within one and Jaromir Jagr tied it on a rebound, and after 12:32 of the first it was tied at two. The Rangers outshot the Isle's 11-9 in the first period but were outhit by them 14-4. It was ten hits to nothing before the Rangers decided to put a hit on an Islander. The Rangers key hitting forward Ryan Hollweg was benched for Ville Nieminen who distinguished himself early by taking two penalties, the second one was ten seconds after the conclusion of the first.

But the story of the game was Jaromir Jagr and his line mates, Straka and Nylander. They each had four points. The gem of the night was with the game tied at two in the third period. Jagr picked up the puck behind the Islander goal and fought off checks and hits to send a beauty of a pass to Martin Straka, who was to the right of DiPietro, in the slot, and Straka rifled it past DiPietro for the game winner. Poti, Nylander and Straka again scored the last three Ranger goals. The last two were breakaways as the Islander defense seemed out of position the whole third period. DiPietro should sue for lack of support.

The game was a great turnaround for the Rangers following Monday's fiasco at Ottawa. Jagr bounced back from his injury, with a vengeance, scoring the second goal for the Rangers, and assisting on the third, fourth and fifth. He dominated the game. Islander checkers were bouncing off of him and there were times the Islanders seemed to give him too much room and a lot of respect. The top line, reunited after a five game breakup, was outstanding, outplaying York, Satan and Yashin.

Henrik Lundqvist was the Prince again, making 23 saves to improve to 14-5-3. Fedor Tyutin played one of his best games of the year both on defense and offense where he picked up two assists. The Kamikaze Kids, Moore, Ortmeyer, Ward and Betts returned to their early season form causing all kinds of havoc against the Islander defensemen and creating some scoring opportunities. What more can be said of Petr Prucha, the fearless one? He turned the game around with his breakaway goal. His 18 goals are only six behind Jaromir Jagr's 24.

The win gives the Rangers 48 points, three behind the Flyers, who have two games in hand on the Rangers. More important, the Rangers are ten points ahead of the Atlanta Thrashers, who lost in OT to the Flyers. The Thrashers are currently in ninth place in the Eastern Conference. The Islanders are twelve points behind the Rangers in the tenth hole.

ICINGS: The Flyers won their third straight road game on an eleven straight road tour. The Flyers have to go on the road because Disney's Holiday On Ice is at their arena. Shades of when the Rangers had to play their playoff games on the road because the circus was in town. The one piece of good news for the Islanders was that the Rangers helped them sell out last night. It was only the second sellout of the season. Sad. These guys want a new coliseum and with a fairly decent team and the smallest seating capacity they can't fill up the place.

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