Rangers 3, Islanders 0

So often, New York Rangers’ winning streaks have been fueled by

the stonewall goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist.

He is still a big part of the equation, but suddenly he has an

ever-improving, young supporting cast that is making this group of

Rangers a legitimate threat in the NHL.

Rookie forward Carl Hagelin scored twice for his second career

multi-goal game, and Lundqvist stopped all 28 shots he faced as the

Rangers beat the New York Islanders 3-0 on Monday night for their

fifth straight victory.

The names of high-priced forwards Marian Gaborik and Brad

Richards are quite familiar, and they have both played a key role

in the Rangers’ surge to the top of the standings. But suddenly,

youngsters such as Hagelin and defenseman Stu Bickel, have

contributed to New York’s recent success.

Despite injuries to defensemen Marc Staal and Michael Sauer, the

Rangers haven’t missed a beat.

”There is great depth in this organization,” said Hagelin, who

also scored twice against Buffalo on Dec. 10. ”There’s a lot of

guys out and it shows that the organization is doing a great job

preparing guys for this. It’s fun.”

Hagelin, in just his 16th NHL game, scored in the second and

third periods for the Rangers (22-8-4) – the Atlantic Division

leaders, who leapfrogged defending Stanley Cup champion Boston into

first place in the Eastern Conference.

The Rangers finished a 3-0 homestand that included a pair of

victories over the Islanders in a five-day span. New York’s past

four victories have been against division rivals. The Rangers begin

a three-game trip at Washington on Wednesday that will conclude

with the outdoor Winter Classic in Philadelphia next Monday.

Lundqvist improved to 23-11-5 against the Islanders with four

shutouts. He has three shutouts overall this season and 38 in seven

NHL seasons.

”I don’t have too many this year, but hopefully I can change

that,” he said.

Joyous Rangers fans chanted ”Hen-rik!” as the final moments

ticked down. Gaborik sealed the win with his league-leading 22nd

goal – an empty-netter with 2:28 left. Gaborik scored for the fifth

straight game, netting seven in the span, and matched his goal

total of last season.

Evgeni Nabokov made 28 saves for the Islanders (11-17-6), who

dropped behind Carolina and into last place in the 15-team East.

The Islanders have lost three of four to the Rangers this

season.

”I don’t think we have to change a lot, but we have to simplify

things,” Nabokov said. ”We have to find a way to play hard. I

don’t like the word cocky, but we have to come out with a

swagger.

”We have to come out with the mentality we can win and that

we’re going to work hard,” he said.

The Rangers took a 1-0 lead 5:14 into the second on Hagelin’s

first goal. Defenseman Michael Del Zotto made a slick, toe-drag

move to get around forward Frans Nielsen in the high slot and sent

the puck down to Ryan Callahan near the left post. Callahan moved

it across the crease to Hagelin for a shot that banked in off

Nabokov.

”Both of those goals, it was really just being in the right

spot at the right time, and guys making good plays,” Hagelin said.

”I didn’t do much.”

Lundqvist was the overall star of the period for the Rangers as

he turned aside numerous in-close chances. With just under seven

minutes left, Lundqvist made a tough save to stop P.A. Parenteau

during a power play, and quickly got back into position to kick out

Nielsen’s try on the rebound.

At the end of that advantage, Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi

sprung Callahan on a breakaway as the New York captain left the

penalty box, but just before he closed in on Nabokov the puck

bounced over his stick.

Lundqvist came up big again when in rapid-fire succession he

denied Marty Reasoner twice and Tim Wallace. He got some help in

the closing seconds of the second when teammates Brian Boyle and

Anton Stralman threw their bodies in front of potentially dangerous

shots and were left down on their knees in pain when the buzzer

sounded.

Hagelin doubled the lead 6:32 into the third when he finished

off a feed from Del Zotto for his sixth goal.

NOTES: Islanders C Micheal Haley injured a hand during a

first-period fight with Bickel and didn’t return. He will be

re-evaluated Tuesday. … The Rangers have beaten the Islanders six

straight times at the Garden. … Bickel had earned four assists in

his first three NHL games before being blanked by the Islanders. He

sustained a black eye during his fight with Haley.