RANGERS (38-15-5) at ISLANDERS (25-27-8)
TV: MSG, MSG PLUS 2
Last 10: N.Y. Rangers 7-3-0; N.Y. Islanders 4-5-1
Season Series: This is the fifth of six meetings. The Islanders took the opener, but the Rangers have won the last three meetings.
Big Story: The Rangers have dropped two of three after winning four straight and would like to avoid losing three of four for the first time since October. Meanwhile, the 13th-place Islanders are trying to keep their flickering playoff hopes alive. They've dropped two straight games by a combined 8-1 score, wasting a chance to gain ground on the eighth-place Maple Leafs, who are seven points ahead.
Rangers: Following a 2-0 loss to the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, coach John Tortorella spoke of his displeasure with the his team, especially the turnover by Michael Del Zotto that led to a breakaway goal by Evgeni Malkin.
“It’s a dumb play by Michael Del Zotto," Tortorella said. "You just can’t throw a backhand flipper into the middle of the ice and another one of our D up the ice with him late in your shift. Michael's played really well but we just lose our patience."
Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist played well, making 29 saves, but the Rangers were chasing the puck throughout the game.
"We have some practice days here and I'm sure we’ll address our play and get back to the way we need to play," forward Brandon Dubinsky told reporters afterward. "It's a long season. I don't want to make excuses but I don't want to say we're in a lull."
Islanders: The Isles bounced back from a 6-0 home drubbing by the Senators on Monday and played better in Buffalo the next day, but still fell short in a 2-1 loss to the Sabres.
Kevin Poulin got his third straight start in net for the injured Evgeni Nabokov, but the Islanders' lack of offense was the difference.
"If you sit on the plane, you look at it as catastrophic," said Doug Weight, who filled in for ill head coach Jack Capuano. "But as tough as it is, when teams are struggling, it can change in a hurry. So we have to get our swagger somehow offensively back. And it's there to be had."
Who's Hot: Lundqvist is 8-2-0 with a 1.29 goals-against average and .953 save percentage over his last 10 games. Long term, the Rangers are away from Madison Square Garden, with a record of 14-4-1 over their last 19 road games.
Injury Report: Rangers forward Ruslan Fedotenko (undisclosed) remains day-to-day. He hasn't played in two weeks. … The Islanders received good news on the injury front, as defenseman Travis Hamonic (nose) will be back in the lineup after sitting out since Feb. 4. Defenseman Mike Mottau (concussion) and Dylan Reese (leg) are out.
Stat Pack: The Islanders have a goal-differential of minus-36. They haven't been better than minus-35 over a full season since reaching the playoffs in 2007.
Puck Drop: "There's no time to feel sorry for ourselves." -- Islanders forward Matt Moulson