It might be Rivalry Rejoined after the Islanders 6-2 rout of the Rangers at the Coliseum.
Both teams ended the evening seething at offenses committed by the other. The Rangers and Islanders combined for 122 penalty minutes and, in an effort to prevent an off-ice incident a gate divided the hallway between the Islanders’ and Rangers’ dressing rooms. An Islanders security official told Metro it was the first time the gate was put up since the Islanders 9-3 brawl-filled win over the Penguins on Feb. 11.
The Islanders lost Selke candidate Frans Nielsen to a head injury after he absorbed a check from behind from Marian Gaborik in the first period. Gaborik received a two minute minor for boarding and a two minute minor for roughing while Zenon Konopka (two two-minute minors for roughing) and Radek Martinek (two minute minor for roughing) attempted to avenge their felled teammate. Rangers defenseman Bryan McCabe was also assessed a two-minute minor for roughing in the skirmish.
“Thought it was a real dirty hit. I’m sure the league will look into it. I was in the penalty box. I was right there. It was right in the number. That’s what we’re trying to get rid of in the game. I know it’s a skill guy, Gaborik, and he probably didn’t mean to — it’s not his trademark — but it’s a real dangerous hit,” said P.A. Parenteau.
“That’s for the league to determine. I heard it. It was a hard hit, against the boards. Again, that’s for them to decide” Jack Capuano said when asked his view on the hit, before adding that “I don’t know. I didn’t really check. I know he has a head injury. The proper protocol will take place,” as it pertained to Nielsen’s status.
It was the Rangers turn to scowl during a fight-marred third period. The Islanders were 5-1 midway through the period and had enforcers Konopka and Michael Haley on the ice. Haley bloodied Sean Avery while Konopka and Brandon Prust battled to a draw in consecutive fights.
But what irritated the Rangers was that Dylan Reese paired off with Ruslan Fedotenko three minutes after the Konopka-Prust bout. Afterward the Reese-Fedotenko fight, John Tortorella had a bemused smirk on his face and cameras caught him yelling towards the Islanders bench.
“I think he did at the end there. I can’t blame him. At that point, with the score, with the unit we put out there, I didn’t want to call timeout. We were scrambling, we had four defensemen on the bench and we put that unit out there right away. As soon as that first whistle came, we were going to give guys the opportunity to go out that don’t normally get power play time,” Capuano explained. When asked what Tortorella said to his bench, Capuano responded, “I don’t know exactly what he said.”
Tortorella was not interested in discussing any aspect of the loss.
“You’re not getting much out of me tonight,” Tortorella said in an abbreviated briefing. “I am not addressing anything.”