Islanders pay season's first visit to MSG vs. Rangers
Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 10:56 AM
Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff WriterISLANDERS (11-14-6) at RANGERS (19-8-4)
TV: MSG, MSG PLUS
N.Y. Islanders 5-3-2; N.Y. Rangers 6-3-1
This is the third of six meetings. The Islanders caught the Rangers early in the season before they began to take off, beating them 4-2 on Long Island. The win moved the Islanders to 3-1-0 at the time, while the Rangers fell to 0-1-2 in their first game after seven days off following their two games in Europe. They met again Nov. 15 in the same place, but this time the Rangers came out on top 4-2 to earn their seventh straight win.
It's always heated when these teams get together, but this is really the first matchup of the season where both teams are playing well. The Rangers have won two straight and four of six, while the Islanders have also won two straight.
Facing road games in two tough cities -- Minnesota and Winnipeg -- the Islanders found a way to emerge with four points. They beat the Wild in a shootout Saturday and followed that with another shootout win in Winnipeg on Tuesday.
scored in regulation and added the shootout winner against the Jets, but it came at a cost. Starter Al Montoya
left the game injured in the second period after a collision with Evander Kane. Evgeni Nabokov
, however, stepped in to stop all 19 shots he faced to get the victory.
"Nabby came in in the third and did a great job," coach Jack Capuano said. "Nabby did a great job in the shootout for us, as well. The way our team is, we have to have all 20 guys playing. Tonight we had that. We didn't have any passengers."
Down four defensemen -- Marc Staal
, Steve Eminger
, Jeff Woywitka
and Michael Sauer
-- it didn't matter against the streaking Devils on Tuesday. Marian Gaborik
scored twice and Henrik Lundqvist
was brilliant, making 30 saves in the 4-1 victory.
The Rangers trailed 1-0 after one period and entered the third period tied, but scored three goals to continue their climb toward the top of the Eastern Conference.
"It was a good, gritty win," coach John Tortorella said. "It wasn't solid right on through. We didn't do everything right at certain times, but we stayed with it. So, I really liked the grit of the game."
The Islanders' Matt Moulson
has 1 goal and 2 assists in his past four games. … Gaborik has been finding the back of the net regularly for the Rangers. He has 4 goals in his past two games.
The Islanders have been faced with a slew of injuries lately and are without forward Brian Rolston
(concusion), defenseman Steve Staios
(concussion), forward Jay Pandolfo
(broken foot) and goalie Rick DiPietro
(groin). Montoya's status should be updated prior to the game. … The Rangers will be without Eminger (shoulder), Sauer (concussion), Staal (post-concussion symptoms), Wojtek Wolski
(sports hernia surgery) and potentially Woywitka (ankle, illness).
Only four regular Rangers are minus-players this season: Brad Richards
(-4), Brandon Prust
(-2) and Ruslan Fedotenko
(-1) and Ryan Callahan
"We know these are three conference games before we break for Christmas, and we talked about that as far as putting this in a capsule. We have four days. We had a good day in Day 1. We need a good Day 2, and then we have a couple of interesting games coming up after that. It's a good way for us to try to finish and get a couple of days off at Christmas, and do it the right way." -- Tortorella, talking about the Rangers' three games in four nights against the Devils, Islanders and Flyers