The Islanders scored four times in the second period Thursday night to knock out red-hot Henrik Lundqvist and beat the Rangers 6-2 -- handing their local rivals their second loss in as many nights.
"We want to play the spoiler role," said former Ranger PA Parenteau, whose goal capped the second-period outburst.
New York was seemingly cruising to a playoff spot on the strength of an 8-1-1 spurt, but after a 1-0 loss at Buffalo on Wednesday and the loss to the Isles, the Rangers have dipped to eighth in the Eastern Conference. They lead Carolina by three points with four games remaining. Carolina has five to play in the final 10 days.
"You have to have a short memory," forward Ryan Callahan said. "If we dwell on it, we're going to find ourselves in some trouble. This team has been good bouncing back from some hard games. It comes down to a four-game season, and we have to be ready."
The Rangers had five power plays in the first 23:07 of playing time but came up empty -- even though the Isles were without their two best penalty-killers. Michael Grabner was away for the birth of his first child and Frans Nielsen, the NHL leader with seven shorthanded goals, was driven facefirst into the boards by Marian Gaborik late in the first period and didn't return.
Blake Comeau got the Islanders even 1-1 at 3:24, hammering home a rebound after Josh Bailey's tip hit the post. Radek Martinek' blast from inside the right circle caught the top corner on the short side 33 seconds later.
The Islanders then struck for two more goals 1:16 apart -- Jesse Joensuu scored on a deflection at 13:28 and PA Parenteau connected at 14:44. Lundqvist, who had allowed just two goals in the Rangers' last four games, gave way to rookie Chad Johnson for the third period. Johnson allowed goals by Matt Moulson and Trevor Gillies before Brandon Prust scored a meaningless goal with 14 seconds remaining.
"This was obviously a big game for them, and they played us tough, so I give them credit," Rangers center Brian Boyle said. "But it was a huge game for us, and we got blown out. I'm embarrassed."
Al Montoya, who was drafted by the Rangers with the No. 6 pick in the 2004 Entry Draft, beat his old team for the first time by making 25 saves. It was a good bounce-back effort for Montoya, who was shaky in a 6-3 loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on March 15.
"This is a big win for us as a team, it's a big win for me since getting pulled last game," Montoya said. "Our penalty kill was unbelievable.
"We're going to be something special really soon."
The Rangers had won their four previous meetings with the Isles, scoring six or more goals in the last three. But they were overwhelmed by an Islanders team that spent the night making life miserable for their defense.
"There are no excuses," Lundqvist said. "I felt that they were a lot more hungry than we were. I am very disappointed."
Coach John Tortorella refused to address anything about the game, saying his thoughts would be kept in house with his team.
The players, however, seem to grasp the seriousness of the situation.
"We know we can play well. We already knew that," Boyle said. "We've had some success and we've had some downs in the season. If you want to be successful in the playoffs, like we think we can be, it's a bad time to go through a couple of games like this.
"We're not guaranteed anything."
More troubling is the Rangers have scored only five goals in five games -- they are 2-2-1 because Lundqvist won a pair of 1-0 shutouts. New York had scored 17 in its previous three games.
Vinny Prospal gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead in the first and Brandon Prust scored in the final minute but that was all they could muster against the also-ran Islanders, who lost 3-2 at New Jersey on Wednesday. Prospal's sixth snapped the Rangers' goal-less drought at 127 minutes, 46 seconds, dating to the first period of a 1-0 win at Boston last Saturday.
The Islanders gave the Rangers plenty of chances to build a lead with a string of undisciplined penalties, including two that handed the Rangers a 5-on-3 advantage for over a minute in the first. But once the Islanders regained their discipline, they took command.
"They came out a little bit flat and we played a good game overall," said Parenteau, who signed with the Isles last summer. "We were a little undisciplined in the first and came back strong in the second and took it to them."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report