GAME: New York Islanders (13-13-2-1) at New York Rangers (11-12-5-2).
TIME: Thursday, 8 p.m. EST.
Any game between the New York Islanders and the New York Rangers is hotly
Thursday's meeting at Madison Square Garden has the potential to be an
especially entertaining affair.
The resurgent Islanders will look to continue their best stretch of the
season when they face their biggest rivals for the second time this season.
In the first meeting between these teams at Nassau Coliseum on Dec. 4,
Islanders captain Michael Peca was ejected for kneeing Rangers center Jamie
Lundmark in the second period. The Rangers scored twice on the ensuing power
play and Mike Dunham made 37 saves in a 4-2 victory that sent the Islanders to
their seventh straight loss.
Several of the Rangers and coach and general manager Glen Sather weren't
happy with Peca's hit, which sidelined Lundmark for eight weeks.
"What Peca did to Lundmark is not called for," Sather said at the time.
"There's a kid who just started to make his career in the NHL, and Peca knees
and puts him out."
Peca believed his hit was legal.
"I know on the play I didn't stick my leg out," Peca said. "He was
planted on his skates. I just tried to finish my check."
Whether the hit was legal or not, the Islanders have been a much better team
since, going 4-0-0-1, with the only blemish in that span a 1-0 overtime loss at
The Islanders paid the Devils back for that loss with a 5-4 victory Tuesday
at Nassau Coliseum.
Jason Blake gave the Isles their first lead of the game with 6:05 remaining
and Alexei Yashin restored the lost advantage 30 seconds later, as New York
climbed back to .500.
"We've had a good start to December, and we have to sustain it," Peca
To continue their strong play, the Islanders will have to find a way to beat
Rangers goalie Mike Dunham. In five games against the Islanders since joining
the Rangers, Dunham is 3-0-2 while stopping 149 of 154 shots.
Since their win on Long Island, the Rangers have lost three of four,
including a 3-1 defeat at Toronto on Saturday.
Dunham has lost his last three starts and his win over the Islanders is his
only victory in the last nine games (1-6-2).
The road team has fared well in this series of late.
The Rangers are 10-2-2 in their last 14 visits to Long Island while the
Islanders are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games at Madison Square Garden.