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Islanders 3, Rangers 2, SO @NHL

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) -The New York Islanders are hoping their third-string goaltender can get them to the playoffs.

Wade Dubielewicz, playing because of Rick DiPietro's concussion, helped the New York Islanders stave off playoff elimination by stopping 36 shots, plus three more in the shootout to lead the Islanders to a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.

"I'm not going to lie - I'm very excited right now," Dubielewicz said. "At the same time, I know I have to bring myself right back down to Earth, because we have to do this all over again in 48 hours. Don't feel too good about yourself, because you can't afford to be relaxed in this situation. I'll enjoy this one for a couple of hours, and then I'll put it behind me and get ready for the next one."

Dubielewicz stopped Michael Nylander, Brendan Shanahan and Jaromir Jagr in the shootout. The save on Jagr's shot was the best. Dubielewicz made a diving save as the puck just fell short of the goal line.

"I saw Nylander was going to his backhand, and I like using my stick when I can, so I had the chance to poke it away," Dubielewicz said. "On Jagr, it seemed like he bobbled it at the last second and he didn't get off a real good shot like he wanted to. I still had to make sure to get on it before it snuck over the line."

Islanders coach Ted Nolan was impressed with his goalie's performance.

"He played a great game," Nolan said. "When you look at the three shooters, those are three world-class shooters. The way Dubielewicz played throughout the whole game, plus the shootout, he was sensational."

The 28-year-old Dubielewicz was able to handle the pressure-filled game.

"You know, it probably worked to my advantage that I wasn't here all year," he said. "I didn't have a week to build up to this game. If I had time to think about the build up, I probably would have been nervous."

Miroslav Satan had the only shootout goal. He beat Henrik Lundqvist with a backhand in close in the first round.

Arron Asham and Alexei Yashin scored for the Islanders, who won the season series from their rivals, five games to three.

The Islanders needed a win because Montreal and Toronto won. They are four points behind the Canadiens and three behind the Maple Leafs, with a game in hand on both.

Shanahan and Nylander scored for the Rangers in regulation. The Rangers would have clinched a playoff spot with a win, and wound up falling into seventh place as Tampa Bay won. Both teams have 92 points, but the Lightning have more victories (44-41).

"We're disappointed we didn't do it tonight," Shanahan said.

Nolan used the Rangers clinching possibility as a rallying point for his team.

"We talked about that," Nolan said, "and if they're going to clinch, let them do it somewhere else. We had to keep our chances alive and get two points."

Lundqvist stopped 32 shots.

The teams played their fourth straight one-goal game. The Rangers won the previous three, all by 2-1 scores, and two of them in overtime.

Asham gave the Islanders an early lead with his 10th goal of the season, and first goal in 30 games at 2:52 of the opening period. Moving down the left boards, Randy Robitaille threw a centering pass toward the net that hit Rangers forward Blair Betts and bounced right to Asham, who tucked it in the net.

Asham last scored on Jan. 27 when he had a pair of goals in a 5-3 home victory over Buffalo.

Dubielewicz was busy in the first period, stopping 17 shots. He had to be sharp to stop Ryan Callahan, who poked the puck off Marc-Andre Bergeron's stick and in one motion tried to stuff it between the goalie's pads with 5:50 left. He also made a big pad save at the left post on Martin Straka with two minutes left after Straka stripped defenseman Chris Campoli of the puck in the Islanders zone and went in alone. Just after that, he made a big save on Shanahan.

"Those were two of my bigger saves," Dubielewicz said of Straka's and Shanahan's attempts. "But being around this team now for a while, I notice that our worst period is the first period, and if we can make it through that, we seem to be okay. So I thought about that before the game and knew I'd have to be ready to go right off the bat."

Shanahan said the Rangers weren't sure about Dubielewicz, since they never faced him prior to Tuesday night.

"He seemed to have more of a book on us than we had on him," Shanahan said.

It turns out Rangers coach Tom Renney is no stranger to Dubielewicz.

"He played great; played really well," Renney said. "From a personal perspective, I've known him from a long time ago. He was a little guy who played in my hockey school. I'm happy for him, and give credit to the Islanders - they played hard."

The Islanders took a 2-0 lead at 5:02 of the second period when, on a delayed penalty call, Yashin broke in with Satan on a two-on-one. Yashin's cross-ice pass was deflected in by Rangers defenseman Jason Strudwick.

Shanahan got the Rangers within 2-1 at 9:02 on their 24th shot with a short-handed goal. Shanahan worked a two-on-one with Straka, and Dubielewicz made the initial save. Shanahan retrieved the puck behind the net and banked it off the back of the goalie's leg and into the net.

Sloppy defensive communication between Sean Hill and Brendan Witt in their own zone led to Nylander's tying goal at 12:52. Jagr picked up the loose puck and quickly crossed it over to Nylander, who quickly flipped the puck high into the net.

The Islanders face Toronto on Thursday night in their final game at home. Forward Ryan Smyth said that the team has to do the same thing they did against the Rangers all over again.

"Our backs are up against the wall, and will be the next three games," Smyth said. "We put ourselves in this situation, and tonight, we got ourselves out of it. We left it all on the ice tonight, and Dubie won us the game. He always gives you that extra added confidence, and we have confidence in him. We've just got to protect the house to - to give him a chance. We battled hard for him, and he battled hard for us tonight."

Nolan said the Islanders get to fight on.

"It means we live another day," Nolan said.

Notes: The Islanders won't be able to use recently signed defenseman Todd Simpson. The NHL announced it will honor the full suspension handed out by the German Hockey League to Simpson prior to signing with the Islanders. Simpson was suspended for a minimum of 12 games for abuse of an official. The NHL said Simpson will sit out the remainder of the 2006-07 season ... Yashin extended his point streak to seven games (3-5-8)... Shanahan leads all active goal scorers with 627 ... The Islanders won the first four meetings this season, including three at Madison Square Garden ... Despite a good number of Rangers fans, the game was not a sellout.

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