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Klein's goal helps Rangers rally past Islanders

by Dan Rosen

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- With their sections of loud fans going back and forth chanting and screaming and booing and celebrating, it felt like the Stanley Cup Playoffs came early at Nassau Coliseum, a fitting atmosphere for this rejuvenated New York hockey rivalry.

The action on the ice Monday was worth the noise.

The New York Rangers twice rallied from two-goal deficits to tie the game before defeating the New York Islanders 6-5 on Kevin Klein's game-winning goal with 4:32 remaining.

The Rangers (34-16-5) went 4-0 with 22 goals on their four-game road trip to move within two points of the first-place Islanders in the Metropolitan Division. They have two games in hand on the Islanders (37-19-1), who won their first three games against the Rangers, all by three goals.

The final game of the regular-season series between the New York teams is March 10 at the Coliseum.

"I thought it showed a lot of resilience," Klein said. "Our first period wasn't too great. I thought we did a great job of starting to get it going in the second, and our third period was Ranger hockey. That was great to see."

Klein scored on a stick-side one-timer from the right circle on the Rangers' 41st shot of the game. They outshot the Islanders 18-6 in the third period. Before Klein scored, the Rangers rallied from a 5-3 deficit on goals by Martin St. Louis and Derek Stepan separated by 1:37.

St. Louis, who had the second assist on Klein's winner, scored the game-tying goal at 8:02 of the second period to end a 15-game drought without a goal.

"Sometimes when you don't score you think you'll never score again," St. Louis said. "You get one and you can get going."

Stepan, who had the primary assist on St. Louis' goal, made it 5-4 at 6:25. Rangers forward Chris Kreider, the left wing on a line with Stepan and St. Louis, helped create both goals with his speed and tenacity on the puck.

That line contributed seven points on three goals and four assists. Kreider also scored and captain Ryan McDonagh had two goals. Cam Talbot, shaky at the start, when his turnover 11 seconds in resulted in a goal for Islanders captain John Tavares, finished with 38 saves.

The Islanders got goals from Tavares, Frans Nielsen, Johnny Boychuk and two from Ryan Strome. Jaroslav Halak made 36 saves on 42 shots.

"We just told ourselves we've gotta find a way here and it's going to feel real good," McDonagh said. "Certainly it does right now. It was a great job by everybody sticking with it, sticking together and doing it as a team for sure."

Klein's goal was his ninth of the season and fourth game-winner. His previous career-high for goals in a season was four and he had only two game-winners in 433 career games coming into the season.

Klein was calling for the puck when Derick Brassard curled around the zone and got down below the left circle. He said he was happy when Brassard's pass went through the slot and got it him.

"It's just one of those things where when I score, a few of them happen to be big," Klein said. "It's one of those things where you try to go about your business, try to play the same way every time, and that was a nice one tonight."

The Rangers were being outshot 20-7 and outscored 2-0 when Talbot stopped forward Casey Cizikas on a breakaway at 13:48 of the first period.

"Casey's got the breakaway and we could have been up by three there," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said.

They weren't, and less than a minute later McDonagh scored to make it 2-1.

The Islanders got the two-goal lead back 80 seconds into the second period, when Boychuk scored on a 60-foot slap shot. The lead was gone 2:10 later because Kreider and McDonagh scored 23 seconds apart to make it 3-3 with 16:30 still to play in the second.

Strome gave the Islanders a 5-3 lead with a goal at 7:41 of the second and another at 3:43 of the third. His goal in the third came off a 3-on-1 rush created off a turnover by Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle at the far blue line.

But again, the Islanders couldn't get the lead up to three goals. The Rangers came back in the third because they finally were able to control the puck and use their speed to aggressively create offensive chances. Turnovers plagued them early in the game and prevented them from generating offensive zone time.

"We had the puck, we protected it, and our forecheck was good," Staal said. "We were on our toes and we started wining foot races, winning battles."

Capuano said he thought the turning point was the non-call on Kreider that led to St. Louis' game-tying goal. The Islanders felt Kreider should have been called for tripping Boychuk in the neutral zone.

With Boychuk down, Stepan picked up the loose puck and went in for a 3-on-1 with St. Louis and Kreider trailing against defenseman Nick Leddy. Stepan moved the puck to St. Louis, who didn't miss with his one-timer.

"I could see if that was somewhere else on the ice, but that's a prime scoring area and they go back 3-on-1," Capauno said. "Usually that's called."

Although so much happened afterward, the turning point for the Rangers may very have been McDonagh's goal at 14:35 of the first period that cut the deficit to 2-1. The Islanders were faster and way better early in the game, but that goal calmed things down for the Rangers.

They were being outshot 20-7 before McDonagh scored, but it started a reversal that saw the Rangers outshoot the Islanders 35-23 in the final 45:25.

"Obviously you don't come back very often in this league," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "It's a tough league to come back when you're down after two. From that standpoint it's obviously good for our team. But on the other hand, at the end of the day it's two points. This was our fourth game of this road trip. We're going to take a day off and get back at it, get ready for Vancouver on Thursday."

The Islanders can't sulk for too long; they play at the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. With the loss, they are 18-3-0 against the Metropolitan Division this season.

"You look at our division, there's good teams and it's going to be a battle," Capuano said. "We have to refocus and move on."


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