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Rangers play rare local game, visit Islanders

by Dave Lozo
RANGERS (0-0-2) at ISLANDERS (2-1-0)


Season Series:
First of six meetings. Last year, the Rangers won four of six matchups, with the Islanders taking the first and final meetings of the season.

Team Scope:

Rangers: After taking a spin through Europe that put the Griswolds to shame, the Rangers received a much-needed week off. They came away with two points in their two NHL Premiere games, losing in overtime to the Kings and in a shootout to the Ducks.

A trip to Long Island is as close as the Rangers will come to a home game until Oct. 27 due to renovations at Madison Square Garden. But the time on the road is something the Rangers said will be good for them.

"That's one thing I think we can take out of this," captain Ryan Callahan told "We've been with each other 24/7 the past two weeks, so we've definitely bonded as a team. We got to know the new guys better and they definitely got to know the rest of the guys on the team better. We can take that out of it, and that's good for the experience."

After dropping their opener to the Panthers 2-0, the Islanders have played extremely well. They beat the Wild 2-1 and smoked the Lightning 5-1 on Thursday night. A win against the Rangers would give the Islanders their best four-game start since they went 3-1-0 to open 2007-08.

Al Montoya made 36 saves and has started all three games this season. It will be tough to bench him after Thursday's performance that saw the Islanders' top line have a break-out game as well.

"We were hungry out there," said John Tavares, who had 2 goals and 2 assists in the win against the Tampa after not having a point in the first two games. "It was only two games. There are still 79 to go, but it's always nice to break the ice and get a positive feeling and get rewarded."

Who's Hot:
Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is winless despite a 1.86 goals-against average through two games. … The Islanders' top line of Tavares, Matt Moulson and PA Parenteau combined for 4 goals, 4 assists and a plus-12 rating against the Tampa.

Injury Report: Marc Staal (concussion) remains out indefinitely. Wojtek Wolski (groin) has been sitting out practice during the Rangers' seven-day layoff. … Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro (head) didn't dress against Tampa. Nino Niederreiter (groin) hasn't been skating. Defenseman Milan Jurcina is also battling groin problems.

Stat Pack:
This matchup marks the first time since Dec. 17, 2009, that the Islanders will enter a game with the Rangers as the team with more points. The last time that was the case prior to that was Oct. 10, 2007.

Puck Drop:
"I think that's really big for us to have that week to not only adjust to the time zone and rest, but to be able to work on things," Callahan said. "We can look back on these two games and realize what we need to work on system-wise. It's nice to have the time to do it."

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