New York Rangers, Mats Zuccarello
Photo by Bergen Record

Tonight marked the christening of the Barclays Center in the New York Rangers and Islanders rivalry, and it didn’t disappoint.

New York Rangers 1 (17-6-3, 37 pts)
New York Islanders 2 (14-8-4, 32 pts)
Metropolitan Division, Final Shootout, Game Box Score
Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York

By Patrick Comia

If you needed a reason to be a New York hockey fan tonight, then you didn’t have to look far.

Brooklyn was the place, as it made it’s rivalry debut between the Rangers and Islanders.

A contemptuous relationship to say the least, fans of both sides of the city were loud and present as the puck dropped at the Barclays Center.

In what was a fast-paced, hard-hitting affair, the Rangers appeared to be the better team, outshooting the Islanders 13-6 at the end of the first 20 minutes. In fact, the Blueshirts were up in shots 6-1 through the first 5:30 minutes of the game.

Changes to the Rangers lineup that included Dylan McIlrath on defense and recently called up Tanner Glass looked to be good moves by head coach Alain Vigneault.

However, the home team had a say in the going-ons of the second period. Head coach Jack Capuano must have lit into his team at the first intermission because his team’s offensive play picked up. They evened the shots at 22 by the end of the period, outshooting the Rangers 16-9.

Their hard work was rewarded when the Islanders were given a five-on-three power play, after Dan Girardi was called for a delay of game penalty. The captain John Tavares took matters into his own hands and ripped a shot past Henrik Lundqvist to give the home team the first lead of the game.

However, the Rangers Viktor Stalberg would answer with a goal of his own, by deflecting a Marc Staal shot from the back end of the offensive zone.

It was an evenly-played game, with not alot of bite or ill-will you might have anticipated from a game between these two. What fans got was a hard-fought, controlled game, where multiple chances were exchanged, goaltending was on point, and you could sense there was a mutual respect on both sides of center ice. There was no hatred or a disgust seen on the ice.

Just two combatants meeting in the middle, for some good old-fashioned fun.

“Two men enter, One man leaves!”

A winner could not be settled in the the last 20 minutes of regulation and overtime period. Both points of the game belonged to the goaltenders. Jaroslav Halak made 12 saves in the closing parts of the game, to keep the Rangers from scoring the game-winner.

Not to be outdone was Lundqvist, who made 15 saves in the closing moments of the game to deny the Islanders.

The shootout was the last resort to settle the first chapter of this season’s rivalry series.

It was the Islanders who notched the game winner off a nice fake from Kyle Okposo, getting the puck over the glove of Lundqvist to secure tonight’s win.

It was a fitting end to one of the more entertaining games of the season, and that was only the first matchup between the two teams.

No rest for the wary as the Rangers are back in action tomorrow night, as they host the Colorado Avalanche at Madison Square Garden. The Islanders will host the St. Louis Blues Friday night.

Both teams deserved a point in this battle of New York, which is sure to amp up the next time these two meet up in January.

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I'm a blogger trying to make it in this world. Have been, and always will be, a fan of the NYR and NYG. Writing for the New Jersey Devils cause, well, someone has to do it!