It took four tries this season, but the Rangers finally came out on top against the Islanders, earning a 4-2 decision at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.
Jaromir Jagr, Chris Drury, Scott Gomez and Brandon Dubinsky scored for the Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist made 22 saves for his 13th win of the season. Rick DiPietro made 27 saves in the losing effort, with Miroslav Satan and Mike Comrie tallying goals for the Islanders.
"When you're tired you don't make the best decisions," said head coach Ted Nolan, noting the team had played three games in four nights. "We'll get some rest and get back to it."
The Rangers took a 2-1 lead, 6:20 into the second period on Drury's power play goal, and did not relinquish the lead. The Rangers scored two power play goals – both in the second period, taking advantage of two turnovers in the Islanders' defensive zone.
"We gave them those two power play goals," said Nolan. "We didn't make them earn the goals. There were two situations where we didn't clear the puck down when we had it. Then they score. Those are a couple of mental things that hopefully can be corrected."
The Islanders could not convert on four power play opportunities, including 29 seconds of a five-on-three man-advantage during the first period of play.
"The biggest thing is our power play," said a frustrated Bill Guerin. "Our power play has failed us for way too long. Things have to change. We're scoring most of our goals even strength. Two even-strength goals a game is pretty good. We put in one or two on the power play and it makes a big difference."
At 9:18 of the first period, the Rangers struck first on a wrist shot by Jagr from the right side.
On their fifth power play of the game, the Islanders received some help from defenseman Michal Roszival to even the score at one. Trent Hunter's initial shot was stopped and then touched by Satan. In an attempt to have Lundqvist cover the puck, Roszival slid it into his own goal at 3:53 of the second period. Satan was credited with the unassisted goal.
The Rangers countered on their next power play when Drury tucked in a shot on the far post from right in front less than three minutes later.
With 3:40 left in the second period the Rangers took a 3-1 on a wrist shot by Scott Gomez with DiPietro scrambling to get set.
The Islanders got it right back with some good work by Comrie and Radek Martinek. Comrie first doled out a big hit on Paul Mara, before Martinek skated the puck into the offensive zone. He then laid a pass to Comrie who slid the puck under Lundqvist for his eighth goal of the season with 2:03 remaining in the second period.
The Rangers put the nail in the coffin when Martin Straka's centering pass on the rush deflected off Dubinsky's skate past DiPietro with only 3:16 left in the third period.
The Islanders drop to 13-9-1 on the season and next host the Atlanta Thrashers, Saturday night at the Nassau Coliseum.
Check out the Islanders TV Game Day tab for complete coverage of tonight's game.
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Five Stars of the Game:
1. Brandon Dubinsky: A goal and an assist 2. Martin Straka: Two set-ups 3. Richard Park: Hustled all game, earned a spot on the Guerin-Comrie line 4. Jaromir Jagr: Started things off, added an assist 5. Chris Drury: Continued his success against the Islanders, power play tally
Stat of the Game: The Islanders took six shots on goal in the third period.
Slapshots: Rick DiPietro tied a career-high with his 18th consecutive start...The Rangers snapped a four game losing streak against the Islanders...Miroslav Satan has a three game point streak (2-1)... Sean Bergenheim was a healthy scratch.
32 Brendan Witt - 24 Radek Martinek
25 Andy Sutton – 4 Bryan Berard
14 Chris Campoli - 8 Bruno Gervais
47 Marc-Andre Bergeron
10 Richard Park - 89 Mike Comrie - 13 Bill Guerin
11 Andy Hilbert - 18 Mike Sillinger - 7 Trent Hunter
26 Ruslan Fedotenko - 63 Josef Vasicek - 81 Miroslav Satan
12 Chris Simon – 17 Shawn Bates
Goaltenders 30 Henrik Lundqvist
40 Stephen Valiquette
18 Marc Staal – 3 Michal Rozsival
51 Fedor Tyutin – 5 Dan Girardi
34 Jason Strudwick – 27 Paul Mara
82 Martin Straka – 17 Brandon Dubinsky – 68 Jaromir Jagr
81 Marcel Hossa – 19 Scott Gomez – 14 Brendan Shanahan
25 Petr Prucha – 23 Chris Drury – 24 Ryan Callahan
44 Ryan Hollweg – 15 Blair Betts – 28 Colton Orr