Rick Nash wouldn't let the New York Rangers lose.
Nash scored the tying goal with 5:23 left in regulation and set up Marian Gaborik's game-winner 42 seconds into overtime as the Rangers rallied to beat the New York Islanders 2-1 on Thursday night for their fourth consecutive victory.
The Rangers got a power play 21 seconds into overtime when Michael Grabner took down Michael Del Zotto. They controlled the puck off the faceoff before Gaborik took a pass from Nash and blasted a straightaway 30-footer through traffic and past Evgeni Nabokov for his eighth of the season and first in nine games -- delighting the thousands of Rangers fans who made the trip to Nassau Coliseum.
"As advertised, he's been a game-breaker for us," Rangers coach John Tortorella said of Nash, who was acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets this summer. "Hopefully it will continue."
The Islanders were less than six minutes away from their first shutout of the Rangers since Dec. 26, 2006, before Nash's deflection of Derek Stepan's shot got behind Nabokov to tie the game. Stepan teed up a shot from the left point; Nash, stationed about 10 feet in front of the net, swatted the puck downward with his stick and it hopped into the net. It was Nash's fifth goal in four games and his eighth of the season -- all in the third period.
"The great part about Nash is that his third periods are his best periods," Tortorella said.
Until Nash scored, Grabner's goal midway through the first period had been the only scoring, though both teams had plenty of opportunities. The Rangers dominated the third period, outshooting the Islanders 15-9 and earning the tying goal.
"That was probably the toughest loss all year," Nabokov said. "We were battling. I thought the Nash line was doing a great job around the net. They were putting pucks on the net and they were crashing. They made it tough on our D."
Nabokov was brilliant while making 35 saves. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist stopped 27 shots, including a handful of Grade-A chances.
"Nabby played great tonight,' Islanders center John Tavares said. "We allowed a tough one to tie it. We kept it going into overtime and it was just an unfortunate break."
The Rangers had all three of the power plays awarded in the game -- something that didn't sit well with the Islanders, who've gone without a power play in two of their past four games.
"The team worked hard," coach Jack Capuano said. "I think they deserved a few power plays."
The Islanders are 2-0-2 in their past four games and 10-11-3 at the halfway point of their season. They are 2-2-2 on a seven-game homestand that ends Saturday afternoon against the Washington Capitals, and Capuano wants to make sure his team doesn't have a hangover from a tough loss.
"We can't dwell on this," he said. "We have to move on, come to the rink with a purpose tomorrow and prepare for the Capitals on Saturday."
Grabner became the third Islanders player to reach double figures in goals when he opened the scoring at 11:51. Colin McDonald grabbed a dump-in behind the Rangers net and wheeled a backhand pass to the slot right to Grabner, who zipped a one-timer over Lundqvist's glove for his 10th of the season. He has a goal in three straight games and trails Tavares (14) and Matt Moulson (11) for the team lead.
Each goaltender survived early tests in the scoreless second period. Lundqvist denied Grabner on a 2-on-1 break and stopped Josh Bailey's blast from the high slot before Nabokov robbed J.T. Miller on a wide-open one-timer from 15 feet at the 7:00 mark.
Moulson missed a chance 90 seconds later when he shot high on a backhander from the slot after a feed by Boyes put him in alone on Lundqvist.
The Rangers had the better of the play for most of the second period and earned the game's first two power plays on penalties five minutes apart to Casey Cizikas and Kyle Okposo. But the Rangers managed one shot in four minutes with the extra man; the Islanders had three, including a breakaway by Matt Martin that forced Lundqvist to come up big.
"We needed to stay with it and not let one go by us again," Tortorella said.
The visitors came out strong to start the third period, but Nabokov was up to the challenge, denying Nash on a power move to the net and again on a wrister from the right circle. Lundqvist then made two excellent saves on Moulson, one on a deflection and the other on the rebound, giving the Rangers a chance to get even.
"I had a good feeling because we were doing so many good things," Lundqvist said. "It was a great challenge to go out here on the road, down one goal, and it was just so rewarding to see the puck go in after all the hard work."
The Rangers were without defenseman Marc Staal, who is out indefinitely after taking a puck near his right eye Tuesday. Center Brad Richards sat out his second game after being checked headfirst into the boards by the Buffalo Sabres' Patrick Kaleta on Sunday. Two former Islanders, defenseman Roman Hamrlik and center Micheal Haley, took their places.
Material from team media was used in this report