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GAME PREVIEW

by Staff Writer / New York Islanders

(12:30 p.m. ET, TV: NBC | Radio: Bloomberg 1130) It's the ultimate matchup today when the Islanders and Rangers face off at the Nassau Coliseum with playoff implications on the line.

The Islanders sit two points behind the Rangers and one point out of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. Despite their victory on Saturday, the Islanders received no help as Carolina and Montreal won their respective games to stay ahead of the Islanders, who still have a game in hand on the Hurricanes and two on the Canadiens.

After a 120-mile drive down to Philadelphia, the Islanders returned home with the only thing they needed on Saturday - two points. Once again, the Flyers proved to be a formidable opponent, putting up a fight until the end.

Andy Hilbert scored his biggest goal of the season, when he tipped home Marc-Andre Bergeron's pass with 4:40 remaining in the third period for a 4-3 Islanders win.

Richard Park, Randy Robitaille and Jason Blake, who skated in his 500th NHL game, also scored for the Islanders who have now won two straight. Ryan Smyth added an assist and has points in four straight games. Since joining the Islanders, Smyth has four goals and nine assists in 11 games. The other acquisition from Edmonton, Bergeron, has five goals and 11 assists in 15 games since moving to Long Island.

Rick DiPietro wasn't as busy as he was against Pittsburgh, but he was solid when he had to be, stopping 18 shots. He also tallied his second assist of the season when he fired a pass up to Alexei Yashin, who sprung Robitaille for a breakaway goal.

Just over 24 hours after their victory over the Flyers, the Islanders return to Long Island to take on their cross-river rivals, the Rangers.

After four consecutive victories over the Blueshirts, the Islanders dropped the next two decisions early in March. The Rangers have since moved ahead of the Islanders in the standings, but have played one more game.

On Saturday, the Rangers were lucky to come away with two points against the Boston Bruins, who held a one goal advantage until 100 ticks remained on the clock. A Zdeno Chara giveaway led to Thomas Pock's second goal of the season. After a scoreless overtime, Michael Nylander and Jaromir Jagr clinched it in the shootout. Henrik Lundqvist recorded 40 saves in the 2-1 victory.

After a string of injuries, the Rangers got back Brendan Shanahan, who was out for 15 games with a concussion. The Rangers are still without forwards Marcel Hossa as well as defensemen Karel Rachunek and Fedor Tyutin.

Chris King and Steve Mears have the call on Bloomberg Radio 1130.


GAME NOTES
STANDINGS:
Islanders
- 83 points, 4th place Atlantic Division
Rangers - 85 points, 3rd place, Atlantic Division

TEAM LEADERS:
Islanders
- Jason Blake, 36 goals; Mike Sillinger, 31 assists; Ryan Smyth, 65 points; Brendan Witt, 125 PIM.
Rangers - Brendan Shanahan, 28 goals; Jaromir Jagr, 61 assists, 87 points; Sean Avery, 159 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS:
Islanders
- Power play: 17.4 percent. Penalty killing: 81.8 percent.
Rangers - Power play: 18.9 percent. Penalty killing: 84.3 percent.

GOALTENDERS:
Islanders
- Rick DiPietro (32-19-8, 2.59 GAA, .918 SV%); Mike Dunham (4-8-3, 3.49, .896).
Rangers - Henrik Lundqvist (33-21-7, 2.33, .916); Stephen Valiquette (1-1-0, 2.84, .886).

2006-07 SERIES:
Islanders - 4-1-1

LAST MEETING:
March 8, 2007 at the Nassau Coliseum: 2-1 Rangers win

HOME/ROAD RECORDS:
Islanders
- 20-11-5 at home
Rangers - 19-13-4 on the road

 

ISLANDERS
Goaltenders
1   Mike Dunham
39 Rick DiPietro

Defensemen
3   Tom Poti 
6   Sean Hill
14 Chris Campoli
32 Brendan Witt
44 Freddy Meyer
47 Marc-Andre Bergeron

Forwards
7   Trent Hunter
10 Richard Park 
11 Andy Hilbert
15 Jeff Tambellini
18 Mike Sillinger
20 Richard Zednik
25 Viktor Kozlov
27 Randy Robitaille
45 Arron Asham
55 Jason Blake
79 Alexei Yashin
81 Miroslav Satan
94 Ryan Smyth


RANGERS
Goaltenders

30 Henrik Lundqvist
40 Stephen Valiquette

Defensemen
3   Michal Rozsival
8   Marek Malik
22 Thomas Pock
27 Paul Mara
34 Jason Strudwick
46 Dan Girardi

Forwards
5   Matt Cullen
14 Brendan Shanahan
16 Sean Avery
19 Blair Betts
25 Petr Prucha
28 Colton Orr
41 Jed Ortmeyer
43 Ryan Callahan
44 Ryan Hollweg
68 Jaromir Jagr
82 Martin Straka
92 Michael Nylander

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