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Rangers 5, Islanders 2 @NHLdotcom

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) - Kevin Weekes got a lot of help from his teammates in a rare start in goal for the New York Rangers.

The 30-year-old backup made 23 saves for his first victory in nearly eight weeks and the rest of the Rangers got in front of a lot of other shots in a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

"The guys really tried to pick me up," Weekes said. "We have a lot of character guys on this team and they were very vocal. Heck, they were sacrificing their faces to block shots for me tonight."

With rookie star Henrik Lundqvist seeing most of the action in goal for the Rangers, Weekes started for the first time in eight games and the second in the last 17. He improved to 9-8-2 with his first victory since Dec. 10 in St. Louis.

"I'm very happy for him. He works very hard and practice and is a great, great guy," said Martin Straka, who scored on a penalty shot and had two assists.

On the penalty shot, Straka fired a wrist shot under Rick DiPietro's left arm to make it 4-0 midway through the second period. The Czech forward was awarded the penalty shot after defenseman Joel Bouchard grabbed him from behind on a breakaway.

"That was just a complete hockey game," Straka said. "All four lines played well. Plus, we had a good start and that's so important."

Jaromir Jagr and Steve Rucchin each had a goal and an assist and Fedor Tyutin and Martin Rucinsky added power-play goals to help the Rangers tie Philadelphia for the Atlantic Division lead with 70 points.

Weekes didn't face a shot in the first 10:57 and needed to make only four saves in the opening period. In the Islanders' 5-4 home victory over the Rangers on Oct. 19, Weekes allowed goals on the first three shots he faced.

"To come and play here and play well was important," Weekes said. "Being able to contribute to a win is the big thing for me."

Mark Parrish scored twice for the Islanders in the third period, beating Weekes on a power play at 3:14 and on an even-strength tip at 9:19.

"They were working hard to get in the shooting lanes," Parrish said. "That's the best I've seen a team block shots in a long time. We didn't match their work ethic.

"They're a good team from top to bottom. They can roll out four lines and six defensemen and all of them play hard. You have to give them a lot of credit. ... Ricky played hard. He kept us in the game when we had no right to be in it."

Coming off a 3-1 home victory over Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, the Rangers snapped the Islanders' winning streak at three with their third straight victory in the series. The Islanders, 21 points behind the Rangers in the standings, are 5-4-1 since interim coach Brad Shaw replaced Steve Stirling.

"We seemed tentative," Shaw said. "It did surprise me. I thought we were ready to go. We didn't compete as hard as we should have."

Jagr had the lone goal for the Rangers in the third, connecting with 3:09 left off a nice passing play with linemates Michael Nylander and Straka. Jagr leads the NHL in scoring with 78 points on 34 goals and 44 assists.

"I don't want to take anything away from them, but even when they scored those two goals, we were still in control," Jagr said. "When you play the game, you just know."

Tyutin and Rucchin scored power-play goals late in the first period, and Rucinsky made it 3-0 with an even-strength goal 2:16 in the second period.

On Rucinsky's goal, DiPietro stopped Rucchin's wrist shot from the top of the left faceoff circle, but the puck ended up behind the goalie for an easy tap-in.

"That goal was awful," DiPietro said. "It hits my glove, hits my mask, goes off my shoulder, goes off my stick and goes in."

The Rangers' Colton Orr bloodied Eric Godard's nose in a long fight midway through the first period. They started throwing punches moments after returning to the ice following roughing penalties. Orr was in the Rangers' lineup for the first time since Dec. 28, also against the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.

Notes: Islanders center Kevin Colley had surgery on his broken neck Thursday and will be operated on again next week. He broke the fifth cervical vertebrae in his neck Tuesday night against Washington when his head slammed into the boards. The team recalled Jeremy Colliton from Bridgeport of the AHL on Wednesday to fill in for Colley. ... Straka is 3-for-7 on penalty shots in his career. ... Islanders defenseman Alexei Zhitnik missed the game because of an ankle injury. John Erskine took Zhitnik's lineup spot against the Rangers. ... Parrish has 21 goals, 12 on the power play.

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