Hayes A Bright Spot In Loss To Isles

By Matthew Blittner
Special Contributor to MSGNetworks.com

“I’m shooting the puck more this year,” said Kevin Hayes. “With (Derek) Stepan gone, I’ve tried to step up my game and lately, the puck is going in.”

In the Rangers2-1 loss to the Islanders Thursday night in Brooklyn, Hayes was the only Blueshirts player to ignite the offense.

Plus, the night doubled as the final game in the illustrious career of Stan “The Hockey Maven” Fischler. And what better way for The Maven to go out than a matchup between the first team he covered as a professional (Rangers) and the team he’s been with since their very first telecast (Islanders).

[More: Fischler Says Goodbye]

With so many things going on at Barclays Center, Hayes was the only Seventh Avenue Skater to score a goal.

With the Rangers on the power-play not even five minutes into the game, Brady Skjei passed the puck to Mats Zuccarello, who passed it back to Skjei, who shot the puck off the backboards.

The puck bounced off the boards, right onto Hayes’ stick and Kevin swiftly deposited the puck in the Isles’ net; giving the visitors a 1-0 lead.

BREAKDOWN OF HAYES’ PERFORMANCE

1. DYNAMIC CENTERS

By scoring his 25th goal of the season, Hayes completed a neat trick. For the first time since the 1996-97 season, the Rangers have two centers with 25 or more goals; Mika Zibanejad (27 goals) is the other. Can you guess who turned the trick in 1996-97?

(Hint: They both rank among the top-three points-scorers in NHL history.)

Give up? Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier.

2. FIRST IN SCORE

His opening score was the ninth time this season Kevin has tallied the first goal of the game. That ranks him fourth in the NHL. And it’s an important ability to have because the team that scores first usually wins … usually.

FINAL THOUGHTS

“I thought we worked hard tonight,” said head coach Alain Vigneault. “We got pucks to the net, but against a goalie who has our number we have to work to get second chances and we didn’t do that.”

The Garden of Dreams Foundation helps kids facing obstacles in the Tri-State area, including Rangers fan Taylor Ryan who is battling a rare blood disorder called Langerhans cell histiocytosis.