Gomez power-play goal proves to be difference maker
By Tom Liodice
Scott Gomez's power-play goal in the second period proved to be the difference maker for the New York Rangers, who defeated the Islanders on Wednesday, 3-1, at Madison Square Garden.
Nigel Dawes put the Rangers up 1-0 with his ninth goal of the season at the 5:37 mark of the first period. Dawes parked himself on the faceoff dot to the left of Islanders goaltender Yann Danis, took a Chris Drury pass from behind the net and fired a wrist shot over Danis' left shoulder to put the Rangers ahead.
Mark Streit tied the game up for the Islanders 1-1, at 8:24 of the first period. The Islanders’ All-Star took a behind-the-net, cross-ice pass from Blake Comeau and sent a wrist shot past Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist for his 10th goal of the season.
Comeau credited the hard work by Kyle Okposo, who received the secondary assist, on helping develop the play.
"Kyle did a good job down the wall, I saw two guys go and try and hit him," Comeau said. "I picked up the puck and I think that gave me a little time with the two guys on Kyle. I saw Mark back door and I just tried to thread through the two guys in front."
Gomez gave the Rangers the lead at the 7:26 mark of the second period on the power play with a goal that Danis probably would like to have back.
With Richard Park in the penalty box for goaltender interference, Gomez skated into the Islanders zone and threw a shot on Danis. The Islanders goaltender couldn't handle the puck cleanly, which trickled behind him to give the Rangers the lead, and what would prove to be the game winner. The goal was Gomez's 11th of the season.
Islanders Head Coach Scott Gordon thought Danis played well, despite the loss.
"Obviously that's probably one Yann would like to have back," Gordon said of Gomez’s goal. "But on the same night he made some pretty good saves, and we also ran into a pretty hot goaltender tonight."
Tensions flared midway through the second period, when Erik Reitz received a kneeing minor on Sean Bergenheim, which triggered a scrum around the center ice area as Andy Hilbert jumped in to stick up for Bergenheim. The scrum eventually led way to Bergenheim dropping the gloves with the Rangers Petr Prucha.
"All night long I thought our guys stuck up for each other," Gordon said. "When there's a scrum they all got in there, and that's a good sign."
Fredrik Sjostrom added an empty net goal late in the third period for the Rangers for the 3-1 victory.
Three Stars of the Game:
1. Henrik Lundqvist: 25 saves backstopping the Rangers to a win 2. Petr Prucha: Assist and a fight 3. Chris Drury: Three assists
Slapshots: The Rangers outshot the Islanders 38-26...Andy Hilbert led all Islanders with 7 shots...Mark Streit led all Islanders in ice time with 23:22...Rangers were 1-5 on the power play, while the Islanders were scoreless on four advantages...Both teams were tied in the hit department, shelling out 29 hits each...Tim Jackman led all Islanders with 5 hits...Bergenheim's fighting major was the second of his NHL career (the other came on October 13)