This was the best game the Rangers have played all week, which made it the toughest loss of all to swallow.
Josh Bailey scored the go-ahead goal with 1:26 to play on the Islanders' first and only shot of the third period, sending the Rangers to a painstaking 4-3 loss to their crosstown rivals on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
Trailing by a goal to start the third, the Rangers played one of their more dominant periods of the season, outshooting the Islanders 17-1 in the frame and winning battles all over the ice surface - and drawing even on the scoreboard on Jesper Fast's seventh goal of the season with under 12 minutes to play. But with time winding down, Cal Clutterbuck led a rush down the right wing and stayed wide with the puck, then Bailey got free of Neal Pionk in front and Clutterbuck put a pass onto his tape.
"We've had heartbreaking losses, but that's right up there. Might be at the top of the list," David Quinn said. "Because I was really proud of the way we played - not just in the third period. Maybe we didn't look great in the first two, but we battled through some things. Then to come out the way we did in the third period and to play with the pace and the energy that we did, says an awful lot about our character.
"But character's not getting us wins right now."