Monday night debuted another season of Islanders-Rangers skirmishes; games both players and fans always get charged up for.
The 217th all-time meeting started with a whimper rather than a bang for the Isles, as it took the visiting Rangers just 56 seconds to bank a goal. Despite the setback, good things were in store, though, as Kyle had several excellent scoring chances in the first period and the Isles did not seem too concerned about playing down one goal. On one attempt Kyle nearly scored off of a Nikolai Zherdev turnover but came up empty.
And that's where Kyle's story would have ended most nights this season: close but no cigar. Except that with just 8 seconds remaining in the first stanza Kyle took a pass from Richard Park and fired it past Henrik Lundqvist for his first goal of the year!
Admitting in his post-game conference that he had felt "a bit snakebitten" so far this year by continuously coming up empty, he was relieved to get the first one out of the way. Coach Scott Gordon also expressed a sense of relief for Kyle after the game and extolled his contributions to the team. Not mentioned was the fact that it was Kyle's first NHL goal on home ice.
The game remained highly competitive (on the ice and scoreboard) through the first two periods but the Isles let the game slip away in the third. The atmosphere became increasingly hostile somewhere around the midpoint of the game as fisticuffs broke out both on the ice and in the stands. The final was a 4-2 Rangers win.
Apart from Kyle having an excellent (his best in the NHL?) game against his team's biggest rival (1 G on 7 shots, +1 rating), the other Islanders bright spot would have to be the play of goalie Joey MacDonald. The Rangers tested Joey Mac frequently but he was up to the task, saving 35 shots and handling the puck flawlessly. With starter Rick DiPietro out for an undisclosed period of time, Joey is quietly gaining the confidence of his teammates and the fans as a very capable netminder.
Despite stumbling out of the gate at 2-6, progress and development are the names of the game this season.