Rangers get even with 5-2 victory over Islanders
Tuesday, 08.16.2011 / 5:15 AMUNIONDALE, N.Y.
-- Henrik Lundqvist
's goaltending and dominant special teams play were almost enough to make Rangers coach John Tortorella smile.
Lundqvist's heroics enabled the Rangers to survive an early onslaught by the New York Islanders
before Ryan Callahan
scored two of the Rangers' three power-play goals in a 5-2 victory on Thursday night, ending a five-game losing streak.
Unlike Wednesday night, when Tortorella was irate with his team's performance, his postgame meeting with the media reflected his team's improved showing from the 2-1 loss at Madison Square Garden.
"I thought we were better tonight," he said in a much calmer manner than his stormy postgame media scrum one night earlier. "Henrik made key saves at key times. We found a way to win a hockey game."
added his League-leading 24th goal during a 5-on-3 power play in the third period and assisted on both of Callahan's goals as the Rangers won for the sixth time in their last seven visits to the Nassau Coliseum. They had won five in a row before losing 3-1 on Oct. 28.
Lundqvist finished with 35 saves, but he did his best work in the first period -- enabling the Rangers to go to the locker room with a 2-0 lead despite being outshot 14-4.
"We know they come hard," Tortorella said. "They're a hard-working hockey team. We were just trying to get the puck out to the neutral zone and make them play defense. Obviously, Hank was the most important guy for us, and that's what has to be."
Lundqvist outplayed Dwayne Roloson, who allowed three goals on the first five shots he faced, surrendered five on just 22 shots and struggled all night. Callahan said Lundqvist's performance, especially in the opening period, was the key to his team's rebound after a poor showing on Wednesday.
"Hank's our backbone and he made some key saves early on," he said. "Obviously we wanted to respond after the last game against these guys, and the guys in this room showed some character to come out and play the way they did."
The Rangers, who had scored two goals or less in their previous seven games, broke out with their best offensive night on the road all season. They hadn't scored more than three in a game anywhere since a 7-4 home victory over Columbus on Nov. 23.
"The key thing is, you don't have to play a perfect game when you score a few goals," Tortorella said.
The Islanders continued to struggle to kill penalties. The Rangers scored three times in six advantages, and the Isles have killed just 18 of the opposition's last 31 power plays. Their power play also went scoreless in seven chances and was booed by the home fans during a fruitless four-minute advantage in the third period.
Despite the special-teams struggles, Isles coach Scott Gordon cited Lundqvist as the key.
"You're not going to hear any complaints from my side," he said. "I think it's obvious what it was. The guy with the pads on in the other net was pretty good. At the end of the day, had there been another goalie in the net, we might have won this 6-5."
Tortorella benched two veterans, defenseman Wade Redden
and forward Ales Kotalik, after his team's poor effort in Wednesday's 2-1 loss to the Isles at Madison Square Garden.
He declined to say whether whatever message he intended to convey had been received by his players, saying, "You'll have to ask them."
But the lineup changes didn't seem to make much difference in the early going. The Islanders had the game's first nine shots and were denied only by the goaltending of Lundqvist, whose best stop came 3:10 into the game when he foiled Rob Schremp on what looked like a wide-open rebound during a power play.
"Lundquist probably made his best save of the night on that power play," Gordon said of his stop on Schremp. "That could have set the tone. We were doing a lot of right things, but the puck just wasn't going in."
Lundqvist said the Isles' early surge was not unusual.
"I've been there before in this building," Lundqvist said. "They've come out flying every time since I got here five years ago. They were flying, putting pucks everywhere. I kind of knew we were in for that after the first couple of minutes. I was ready for it.
"You just have to stand tall. There's no way they can play like that for 60 minutes."
Sure enough, the Islanders couldn't.
The Rangers had been outshot 12-1 when Islanders defenseman Mark Streit
was called for holding at 12:41 -- and they made the Isles pay when Callahan picked up a deflected pass by Gaborik at the top of the crease and smacked it past Roloson at 13:06.
The visitors didn't get another shot on goal until they scored again at 17:56. Sean Avery
led a 3-on-2 break and took a shot from the slot that Roloson stopped. But Rangers captain Chris Drury, who hadn't scored a goal since Oct. 19, was all alone and banged home the rebound for his third of the season and a 2-0 lead.
"We didn't talk about the shots," Tortorella said when asked about what he said to his team between periods. "We just wanted to play more of a north-south game."
The lead grew to 3-0 just 27 seconds into the middle period when the Rangers cashed in on another power play, with Callahan putting a pass from Gaborik behind Roloson after the Islanders failed to clear the zone.
After penalty-killer Nate Thompson missed an open net with Lundqvist out of the play, the Isles got on the board at 9:31 when defenseman Andrew McDonald's slapper from the top of the left circle hit a defender and went past Lundqvist at 9:31 for the rookie's first NHL goal.
Gaborik ripped a one-timer from the high slot past Roloson during a two-man advantage at 3:37 of the third period, delighting the numerous Rangers fans in the crowd of 15,138. Artem Anisimov
made it 5-1 at 6:50, breaking down right wing, cutting behind Freddy Meyer and stuffing the puck past Roloson.
added a meaningless goal on a deflection with 4:46 remaining.
For Lundqvist, the offensive outburst was something to savor, if only for a night.
"For a night, we can enjoy it and then get ready for the next one," he said. "When we get involved like we were in the last 50 minutes -- not the first 10 -- we're a good team. The game is a little bit easier when you score goals."