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Rangers Topped by Islanders 3-2 at Home

Blueshirts allow two PPG in third

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

The Rangers' penalty killing struggles continued and thus, so did the team's slump at home. The Rangers allowed two power play goals in the third period in a 3-2 loss to the Islanders Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers led 2-1 after 40 minutes, but goals from Nikolay Kulemin and Andrew Ladd with the man advantage turned a one-goal advantage into a one-goal deficit midway through the third period.

It was the eighth straight game the Rangers allowed at least one power play goal against.

"Very deflating," Rick Nash said of the penalty kill in the third period. "The PK has to work against their best players. If you win the special teams battle, I think the percentage of you winning the game is huge. We've got to do a better job on the penalty kill."

The Rangers have gone 0-5-2 in their last seven games at home since a win over the Capitals back on Feb. 19. During that time, New York has eight wins on the road in 10 games, leaving many puzzled as to what changes at home.

"There's nothing we can do about it really," Derek Stepan said of the team's recent struggles at home. "What we have to do is try to solve the riddle. I don't know what the answer is. I don't understand why we can't seem to get it done on home ice. It's certainly something we need to fix, but at this point there's nothing we can do about the past seven. We need to find the answer and just get it done before the playoffs come around."

The Rangers opened the scoring early in the second period on a power play goal from Mats Zuccarello. Mika Zibanejad was ridden down by an Islander defenseman, but was able to slide a pass across to Zuccarello on the doorstep to put the Rangers ahead 1-0 2:46 into the period.

The Islanders tied the game just 54 seconds later when Anders Lee put home a rebound off an Anthony Beauvillier shot. Antti Raanta stopped the original sharp angle shot, but Lee beat Brady Skjei to the rebound for his 27th of the season.

Video: NYI@NYR: Nash kicks puck to skate, chips in goal

Nash put the Rangers back up a goal with an impressive individual effort. Nash picked up the puck just inside the Islanders zone and dangled through Thomas Hickey into the slot and chipped the puck while falling past Thomas Greiss for his 20th goal of the season.

But then the penalties came. First it was Kevin Hayes in the box for slashing that led to Kulemin's marker. Beauvillier's centering pass would carom off Kulemin's skate and into the net at 5:01 of the third to knot things up again.

Then Michael Grabner's clearing attempted sailed into the crowd, putting the Rangers down a man again. John Tavares' wrist shot from the faceoff dot caught Ryan McDonagh in the hand and found its way to Lee's stick. Lee sent a pass to Ladd, who was untouched in front for the easy goal to put the Islanders ahead by a goal at 12:38.

"It's really frustrating but everyone was trying their best and everyone was putting it all on the line, so you just have to keep doing that," said Raanta, who made 25 saves. "It's going to turn around. If we keep playing like this, we're going to get some wins here."

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