Rangers’ Peter Laviolette furious over ‘vicious’ hits in loss to Islanders

After the Rangers’ fourth-to-last game of the season, a 4-2 loss to the Islanders at UBS Arena on Tuesday night, Peter Laviolette was seething. 

The head coach had never been that livid after any other game in his first year behind the Rangers bench.

And it wasn’t because his team couldn’t pull out the win after storming back from down 3-0 to make it a one-goal game going into the third, or anything related to the Blueshirts’ play in general. 

Mika Zibanejad is injured during a third-period collision with Adam Pelech during the Rangers’ 4-2 loss to the Islanders. Getty Images

Laviolette took serious issue with a collision between Mika Zibanejad and Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech in the third period, which knocked the Rangers’ No. 1 center out for the rest of the game even though he later returned to the bench. 

“He came back at the end from that vicious hit,” Laviolette finally said through pursed lips, after taking a brief pause to collect his thoughts. “He came back. That vicious shoulder, elbow to the head. Watch it.” 

Asked if he thought it was intentional, the Rangers bench boss firmly said he did. 

Laviolette only grew more irate when he was posed a question about Islanders defenseman Noah Dobson’s hit from behind on Vincent Trocheck at the tail end of the game, which the Rangers second-line center personally addressed with the referee after the fact. 

After describing that hit as vicious, as well, Laviolette casted a broader denunciation on the Islanders’ overall play on Tuesday. 

“I think we owned the game,” he said. “The puck was on our sticks the entire second and third periods. It was hard out there tonight having to get through all of that. What we’re talking about, it was hard, but our guys kept fighting and battling until the end. 

Rangers’ Vincent Trocheck talks to referee Kelly Sutherland during the third period. Noah K. Murray-NY Post

“Games are important right now. They mean a lot. Our guys are battling hard out there.” 

Islanders head coach Patrick Roy seemed genuinely surprised to have to field questions about the aforementioned incidents. 

Reiterating several times that he thought the Pelech/Zibanejad collision was accidental, Roy ended up saying he thought it was a waste of time to continue debating it. 

“It was totally accidental, there’s no doubt in my mind,” he said. “I think [referee] Kelly [Sutherland] was in a really good position to see everything and he made it clear right away that it was accidental. But sometimes frustration makes you say things.” 

The Rangers were under siege through the opening 20 minutes by an Islanders squad playing like their lives depended on it. 

Rangers coach Peter Laviolette was not thrilled with some of the hits and calls during his team’s loss to the Islanders. Noah K. Murray-NY Post

Powering to a 3-0 lead in a hurry to set themselves up for a comfortable finish in arguably their most important game of the season thus far, the Islanders then committed three straight penalties in the middle frame. 

And with a top power-play unit like the one the Rangers have, penalties can be detrimental for their opponents.

Such was the case as the Rangers pulled within two on power-play goals from Chris Kreider and Adam Fox. 

Islanders captain Anders Lee later sealed the victory with an empty-net goal with seconds left in regulation. 

Not only are the Islanders still a potential first-round matchup for the Rangers, but there’s one more regular-season meeting between the two clubs in four days.

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