NEW YORK (AP) _ Mike Dunham inched out of his crease during the first big
brawl and got as far as center ice for the second one.
That was close enough for the New York Rangers goalie.
Dunham stayed in his own end and enjoyed the rough stuff that came at the
close of the Rangers' 6-2 victory Thursday night over the New York Islanders.
When Islanders goalie Garth Snow, the best man at Dunham's wedding, got
involved in the fisticuffs, Dunham made sure that the Islanders didn't have the
upper hand. He again monitored the situation after Snow was ejected and Rick
DiPietro joined the next fray.
``I just wanted to make sure that one of our guys wasn't getting doubled,''
said Dunham, whose last NHL fight was with Snow. ``The refs did a good job,
plus I was too tired anyway to go down there.''
He made 30 saves, some in spectacular fashion while the game was still in
doubt. The fights came long after it was clear that the Rangers were going to
beat the Islanders for the fifth straight time this season.
``We came out skating hard, we forechecked hard and created some scoring
chances and took advantage of it,'' Dunham said.
Jaromir Jagr missed two games but made an instant impact by setting up Petr
Nedved's goal 4:06 in and then restoring the Rangers' three-goal lead in the
The Rangers are perfect against the Islanders this season, but trail their
biggest rival by 11 points in the race for the playoffs. The 11th-place Rangers
(22-27-7-4) are 7-0-2 in their last nine versus the eighth-place Islanders,
games all started by Dunham.
Mark Messier and Matthew Barnaby also scored in the first for the Rangers,
who had dropped three straight. Bobby Holik had a goal and an assist in the
third, Alex Kovalev scored and Tom Poti had a career-high four assists.
Justin Papineau had a goal and an assist in the second period and Mattias
Weinhandl brought the Islanders within 4-2.
They were down 3-0 starting the second period, but killed off a penalty and
turned up the heat in the Rangers' zone.
Papineau made it 3-1 with a power-play goal at 2:38. Just over five minutes
later, the Islanders had the Rangers pinned in their own end _ causing tired
defenseman Dale Purinton to turn over the puck.
But Dunham stopped Oleg Kvasha, who raced in alone, and turned aside a
rebound. On the ensuing faceoff, the Rangers moved the puck up ice and grabbed
a 4-1 lead when Jagr took a pass from Nedved and then did the rest.
Jagr fired a shot that DiPietro knocked down and then sprawled to cover. He
couldn't get it before Jagr charged in, went around the goalie and slid in his
21st goal at 8:33.
Weinhandl got the Islanders within 4-2 with 6:14 left in the second, but
Kovalev and Holik scored 1:43 apart in the third.
In all, 132 penalty minutes were handed out, 79 to the Rangers who were
0-for-4 on the power play. The Islanders were 1-for-5.
``It was one of those things with a lot of emotions flying high,'' Islanders
forward Jason Blake said. ``We want to win just as bad as they do.
Unfortunately, we didn't. That was the thing we came here to do and now we're
0-and-5 against these guys.''
After Messier scored just his second goal in 24 games at 2:24, Nedved made
it 2-0 1:42 later, causing Islanders coach Steve Stirling to burn his timeout.
Barnaby increased the lead to three with 2:29 left in the second and he
twirled his stick in celebration in front of Arron Asham at the end of an
agitating shift. Barnaby dished and received plenty of stick and glove jabs
throughout the game.
He even took two punches to the face from Eric Cairns with 10:38 left that
simultaneously got Cairns sent to the penalty box and briefly sent DiPietro to
the bench after allowing six goals on 31 shots.
``It's always fun when you're slugging as long as you aren't getting beat
too bad,'' Barnaby said.
Cairns and Purinton fought with 3:54 left as the major scrum involving Snow,
``He decides to hit me with my gloves on my hands. I didn't even see it,''
Cairns said of Purinton. ``That gets me pretty angry.
``Don't be gutless and sucker me. There's supposed to be a code and he
didn't want to follow it.''
Barnaby and Asham fought with 1:28 remaining, sparking another brawl.