RANGERS 2, ISLANDERS 1, SO
By Jason Lockhart
It took more than 65 minutes to determine a winner in this epic battle between the Islanders and Rangers. Rick DiPietro was the star of the game stopping a career-high 56 shots, but the Rangers prevailed in a shootout to earn a 2-1 victory over the Islanders Monday night at Madison Square Garden.
"Ricky was the best player on the ice," said Ted Nolan. "He was the reason we got the point. But we were disappointed with the performance. We know we can play a lot better."
Matt Cullen scored the game-deciding goal in the shootout as the Rangers defeated the Islanders for the first time in five tries this season.
The Rangers out-shot the Islanders 57-30 in the game. The largest discrepancy in the shot category came in periods one (17-6) and three (19-8). The second period was the most even at 19-13. The Islanders also got into penalty trouble, but the Rangers went 0-for-8 with the man-advantage. The Islanders' lone goal was scored on the power play which went 1-for-4.
"We let their skill take over tonight," said Ryan Smyth. "We didn't clog up the neutral zone and play well in our own zone. That's why they got a lot of shots and opportunities."
The Islanders got two lucky bounces to score the first goal on the power play. First, Marc-Andre Bergeron's shoot-in caromed off the partition through the crease, right to Jason Blake. In one motion, Blake fired the puck back through the crease, ultimately bouncing off Paul Mara and into the goal with 1:43 remaining in the opening period.
DiPietro came up big during a Rangers power play mid-way through the second when he stopped Sean Avery's backhand shot from right in front of the goal. He would do that many times against the Rangers throughout the game.
Later in the period, Richard Zednik played goalkeeper, stopping Michael Nylander's rebound from bouncing into the goal with the Rangers pressing.
The Rangers evened the score 26 seconds into the third period. Jed Ortmeyer's shot was stopped by DiPietro, but Petr Prucha pounced on the rebound.
After the goal, DiPietro played incredibly as the Rangers continued to pepper the Islanders' netminder with shot after shot. In one sequence, DiPietro even made a save with the back of his helmet when he was spun around by the stick of Jaromir Jagr.
In the shootout, Cullen scored on the forehand, while Miroslav Satan, Viktor Kozlov and Randy Robitaille failed to convert for the Islanders.
"The shootout is how games are decided these days," said DiPietro. "I would like to have had Cullen's shot in the shootout, but you have to give him credit. He took a quick shot and it was a good move."
The Islanders get their re-match against the Rangers on Thursday evening at the Nassau Coliseum.
"We'll come out with a lot more fire on Thursday," said Nolan.
Five Stars of the Game:
1. Rick DiPietro: Stole a point for the Islanders
2. Henrik Lundqvist: Earned the win for the Rangers
3. Matt Cullen: Scored the game-winner in the shootout
4. Sean Hill: Played physically all night with eight hits in 28:21 of ice time
5. Petr Prucha: Evened the score for the Rangers in the third
Stat of the Game: The Islanders blocked 25 shots to the Rangers' 12.
Slapshots: The Islanders have scored power-play goals in six of their past seven gamesÂ¦The Islanders' record for shots against in one game is 60, set on November 22, 1972 at Philadelphia Â¦Tonight's Islanders scratches were Alexei Yashin, Shawn Bates and Bruno Gervais.
39 Rick DiPietro
1 Mike Dunham
32 Brendan Witt - 6 Sean Hill
14 Chris Campoli - 44 Freddy Meyer
3 Tom Poti - 47 Marc-Andre Bergeron
11 Andy Hilbert - 18 Mike Sillinger - 7 Trent Hunter
94 Ryan Smyth - 27 Randy Robitaille - 55 Jason Blake
20 Richard Zednik - 25 Viktor Kozlov - 81 Miroslav Satan
45 Arron Asham - 10 Richard Park - 12 Chris Simon
30 Henrik Lundqvist
40 Stephen Valiquette
8 Marek Malik - 3 Michal Rozsival
27 Paul Mara - 23 Karel Rachunek
22 Thomas Pock - 46 Dan Girardi
81 Marcel Hossa - 92 Michael Nylander - 68 Jaromir Jagr
15 Brad Isbister - 25 Petr Prucha - 82 Martin Straka
16 Sean Avery 5 - Matt Cullen - 41 Jed Ortmeyer
44 Ryan Hollweg - 19 Blair Betts - 28 Colton Orr