RANGERS (14-16-3) at ISLANDERS (13-14-7)
Last 10 -- N.Y. Rangers 2-6-2; N.Y. Islanders 4-6-0
Season series -- The teams are meeting for the third time this season and the second in as many nights. The Islanders won 2-1 at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday and beat the Rangers 3-1 at the Nassau Coliseum on Oct. 28. The teams play again on Dec. 26 at the Garden.
Big story -- There's nothing more galling to a Ranger fan than a loss to the Islanders -- so imagine the possibility of losing twice in two nights. That's what the Rangers are facing after a poor effort in their 2-1 home loss on Wednesday. The Islanders, who was dreadful in a 7-1 loss to Florida on Monday, bounced back with a near-perfect road game that included 28 blocked shots and goals by Jon Sim and Blake Comeau.
Rangers -- Coach John Tortorella lit into his team after Wednesday's loss but has has limited options for shaking up his lineup. He said Thursday morning that veteran defenseman Wade Redden and forward Ales Kotalik would be healthy scratches. Redden will be replaced by rookie Bobby Sanguinetti, while Eric Christensen will take Kotalik's place.
Redden played 12:21 and Kotalik just 8:53 on Wednesday, and Kotalik made a turnover that led to a breakaway.
"It's because of their game," Tortorella said after Thursday's monring skate when asked why the two veterans were being benched. "It's never about just one game."
Islanders -- After making more turnovers than a bakery on Monday, the Islanders tightened things up remarkably well against the Rangers. They also got perhaps the best game of the season from Sim, who scored the game's first goal by going to the net and getting hit by a shot from Jack Hillen.
Sim went through waivers last season and was sent to the minors, but is providing the smallish Islanders with some grit up front.
"He's having a lot of opportunities," coach Scott Gordon said. "He does a great job going to the front of the net and we know how much of an agitator he is. It's good to see somebody willing to go to those hard areas and get rewarded for it."
Who's hot -- No one on either team is filling the net. Islanders rookie John Tavares leads all first-year players with 15 goals and 27 points. Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto is tied for third among rookies with 20 points and had two assists on Saturday.
Injury report -- The Isles are still without center Doug Weight (upper-body injury) and forwards Tim Jackman (hip) and Sean Bergenheim (ribs). Defenseman Radek Martinek (knee) is gone for the season. The Rangers are healthy.
Stat pack -- The Islanders have beaten the Rangers twice this season after going 1-5-0 against their big-city rivals in '08-09. … Gaborik played an incredible 26:51 against the Islanders on Wednesday, more than anyone on either team. He was one of nine Rangers that played 20 or more minutes, while six others played less than 10.
Puck drop -- To say that Rangers coach John Tortorella was unhappy with his team's effort, especially in the first period, was putting it mildly.
"It is simply unacceptable," he said. "There has to be something done, and we'll see along the way here before (Thursday) night's game where we go with it."
If nothing else, expect more fire from the Rangers, who will have plenty of their own fans at the Coliseum.
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