New York Islanders @ New York Rangers
Islanders look to even season series with win against their cross-town rivals
Monday, 12.26.2011 / 12:00 AM ET / News
By Dyan LeBourdais
(Answer from 12/23: John Tonelli. Tonelli scored five goals on Jan. 6, 1981 en route to a 6-3 win. Mike Bossy, noted goal scorer, and Tonelli, a playmaker, switched roles for a game with Bossy picking up six assists.)
Check out the Islanders depth chart. Head Coach Jack Capuano spoke to the media just about 5 p.m. Evgeni Nabokov is in net, Anders Nilsson is backing up. Nino Niederreiter and Tim Wallace switch spots.
Rangers (Expected) LineupsForwards: Anisimov-Stepan-Gaborik, Hagelin-Richards-Callahan, Dubinsky-Boyle-Mitchell, Fedontenko-Rupp-Prust
Defensemen: McDonagh-Girardi, Del Zotto-Stralman, Erixon-Bickel
Goaltenders: Lundqvist, Biron
Expected scratches: Woywitka, Avery, Christensen
|Team Record: 11-16-6
Last Game: 5-3 L vs. TOR
Season Series: 1-2-0 of 6
|Team Record: 21-8-4
Last Game: 4-2 W vs. PHI
Season Series: 2-1-0 of 6
The Islanders forward has been steadily improving over the course of the season, finding more of a chemistry with his linemates Frans Nielsen and Michael Grabner. But more than that he's found the confidence to create plays.
"I've been playing better over the last few weeks," Okposo said. "I have to keep it going, get a couple days rest here and get back at it the 26th."
Scoring the Islanders first goal Friday night against Toronto, Okposo helped propell the Islanders back into the game. Receiving a streaking pass from defenseman Mike Mottau through the neutral zone, the Isles forward snapped the puck past James Reimer glove side.
| Brandon Dubinsky
The Rangers forward fairs well against the Islanders. This season, Dubinsky has scored a goal and three assists for a Rangers-high four points, while last season he recorded a team-high six assists in the rivalry's six-game series.
However, the 25-year-old Alaskan native's two goals and 14 assists in 33 games are seventh on the Rangers in scoring this season.
Monday night's post-holiday matchup between the Islanders and Rangers will be the fourth meeting between the two clubs this season. While all three games have been decided by a 4-2 margin, they've all been close games. The Islanders won the first game, but with the Rangers winning the last two contests, the Islanders will be looking to get back to their winning ways.
Completing a set of back-to-back games before the holiday and three games in four nights, the two-day break was a welcome rest. With one game against the Eastern Conference leading Rangers and the next night against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the games weren't easy battles.
After falling behind the Leafs 3-0 just 11:15 into the contest, the Islanders responded and cut the goal differential to within one goal twice. But a questionable diving penalty to John Tavares with three minutes remaining in regulation severely diminished the Isles opportunity to tie the score for an overtime or shootout win.
"We did a good job in the second and third, we battled hard," Okposo said. "But when you're down 3-0, it's tough to win."
The New York Rangers are emerging from the Christmas break leading the Atlantic Division, and their rivals across the East River are coming back entrenched at the bottom.
Marian Gaborik and the Rangers hope the time off doesn't stunt their momentum, something the Islanders will look to do Monday night at Madison Square Garden. (Continue Reading)
The Islanders faced their cross-town rivals for the third time Dec. 22, falling by a score of 4-2 at Madison Square Garden. PA Parenteau and Matt Moulson both scored power play goals, tying the score at one and cutting the goal differential to one goal with more than 11 minutes to go in the third. Brandon Dubinsky, Marian Gaborik and Michael Del Zotto scored, but John Mitchell provided the final margin with an empty net goal.
IslandersPower Play %: 17.9%
Penalty Kill %: 80.7%
Home Record: 6-9-3
Road Record: 5-7-3
Goals For: 77
Goals Against: 108
RangersPower Play %: 16.3%
Penalty Kill %: 85.0%
Home Record: 10-3-2
Road Record: 11-5-2
Goals For: 99
Goals Against: 72
Islanders forward John Tavares following the Isles loss to Toronto on Dec. 23rd: "We just have to understand games like these, after tough travel weeks, days we don’t feel very good, we have to find ways to win. Especially a team like this that we are chasing in the standings. Our work ethic and our attitude is there, it’s just our execution, so we got some good things to build on, but we could definitely use these couple days of rest."
Cory Wright contributed to this report