In the early going of 2011-12 NHL season, the New York Rangers appear to be a bunch that doesn't learn from its mistakes. And the New York Islanders seem to be a young, hungry team that could be on the cusp of taking the next step. Behind John Tavares' hat trick, the Islanders showed the Rangers who's boss on their home turf, winning 4-2.
Through three games, after Saturday's eight, the Rangers have had 19 penalties. That's not a misprint. Just over a minute into the game, the Blueshirts took their first. They had two in that period, four in the second, and three in the third period. As a result, they allowed two power-play goals -- both to Tavares, who, in his third year, seems like a man on a mission. Tavares also had an assist on the Isles' first goal from Matt Moulson in the first period. The 21-year-old, 2009 first-overall pick now has eight points in the past two games.
And for the third game in a row, the penalties cost the Rangers not just because they allowed two goals on the penalty kill, but because their play five-on-five has been solid, yet they've rarely had five guys out there for a sustained period of time to generate anything consistent. It's also beginning to look like the European opponents set New York back to an extent as they haven't shown the same life they did for much of last season.
The Islanders' first goal came after Tavares carried the puck into the zone, lost the handle, but P.A. Parentaeu tapped it over to Moulson who flicked it past Henrik Lundqvist.
The Rangers tied it up in the second after Derek Stepan forced a turnover, which Brad Richards turned into an up-ice pass to a breaking Marian Gaborik who shot it through Evgeni Nabokov's legs. Tavares scored five minutes later on the man advantage, but New York answered with 1:34 remaining as a Brandon Prust wrap-around deflected off defenseman Franz Nielsen's skate.
Tavares tallied his most impressive goal on a deft deflection off a Mark Streit shot. He'd get the hat trick on an empty net.
Credit the Islanders for attacking the Rangers from the get-go and not backing down, but shame on the Blueshirts for being so undisciplined. You don't deserve to be in games -- which the Rangers were -- when you're constantly playing a man down. Until then, it will be nearly impossible to win any games, no matter the opponent.