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Islanders-Rangers Preview

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GAME: New York Islanders (34-38-5) at New York Rangers (44-22-12).

TIME: Tuesday, 7 p.m. EDT.

Having been a starter for much of his eight-year career, goaltender Kevin Weekes now is proving his worth in a backup role.

Weekes is expected to make his fifth straight start for the playoff-bound New York Rangers when they wrap up their season series against the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden.

Weekes has filled in admirably while star rookie Henrik Lundqvist recovers from a hip injury before the Rangers' first playoff appearance since 1997.

In four April starts, Weekes has gone 3-1-0 with a 2.21 goals-against average. He has stopped 89 of 97 shots.

Weekes is looking to bounce back from his first loss in that stretch. He made 23 saves Sunday, but allowed third-period goals to Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez 39 seconds apart as the Rangers lost 3-2 to New Jersey.

"Even if we had gotten to overtime and gotten a point out of it, it would have been more palatable," Weekes said. "This is a bitter pill to swallow. We had two points and came out with nothing to show for it."

Weekes, though, has been a big key to the Rangers building a five-point lead over second-place Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division.

League scoring leader Jaromir Jagr assisted on Sandis Ozolinsh's second-period power-play goal Sunday, and has points in 14 of his last 15 games, totaling 10 goals and 17 assists in that span. Only the Islanders held him off the scoresheet in that stretch during the Rangers' 3-1 home win on Thursday.

It took 77 games, but the Islanders finally are coming off their first shutout victory of the season.

Rick DiPietro had 20 saves and Alexei Yashin scored two of the Isles' three power-play goals in the first period in a 5-0 rout of Washington on Saturday.

The win also ended the Islanders' season-high six-game losing streak.

"It's always nice to get a shutout, but I think the biggest thing was the win," DiPietro said. "We got so sick of losing."

DiPietro picked up wins over the Rangers in a home-and-home series from Oct. 19-20. Since then, he is 0-5-0 with a 4.21 GAA and .844 save percentage against them.

The Islanders have a shootout win, six losses and a tie in their last eight visits to MSG.

STANDINGS: Islanders - 73 points, 4th place, 27 PB, Atlantic Division. Rangers - 100 points, 1st place, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Islanders - Miroslav Satan, 31 goals; Yashin and Mike York, 38 assists; Yashin, 66 points; John Erskine, 142 PIM. Rangers - Jagr, 53 goals, 66 assists and 119 points; Darius Kasparaitis, 97 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Islanders - Power play: 17.5 percent (73 for 418), 21st in NHL. Penalty killing: 79.3 percent (357 for 450), 25th. Rangers - Power play: 18.8 percent (80 for 425), 8th. Penalty killing: 84.3 percent (391 for 464), 6th.

GOALTENDERS: Islanders - DiPietro (28-24-5, 1 SO, 3.03 GAA); Garth Snow (4-11-0, 0, 3.68). Rangers - Weekes (14-11-3, 2.83); Lundqvist (30-11-9, 2, 2.18).

SEASON SERIES: Rangers, 5-2.

LAST MEETING: Thursday; Rangers, 3-1. At Uniondale, N.Y., Martin Straka scored two goals and Weekes made 21 saves against his former team. Satan scored for the Isles.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Islanders - 15-21-3 on the road; Rangers - 25-8-6 at home.

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