After beating the New York Islanders outside, the New York Rangers hope to end their recent home struggles against their local rival indoors.
The Islanders have never pulled off a season sweep at Madison Square Garden of more than two games but can do so Friday night when they meet the Rangers for the third time in 11 days and last this season.
Three days after the Rangers (29-23-3) rallied from two down to rout New Jersey 7-3 at Yankee Stadium, they overcame a one-goal deficit to beat the Islanders 2-1 on Wednesday to sweep their two outdoor games in the Bronx.
"The four points obviously helps with the memories (of playing at Yankee Stadium)," defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "We’re getting momentum as a team and that’s important."
The Rangers bounced back from consecutive home losses to the Islanders (21-27-8) and St. Louis last week, and they’ve now won eight of 11.
"Our guys are definitely getting themselves well-prepared to play whichever opponent we’re playing," coach Alain Vigneault said. "We know that every game is a challenge and will be hard fought."
Enforcer Daniel Carcillo scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period and Henrik Lundqvist made 30 saves as the Rangers improved to 2-2-0 against the Islanders this season.
"We found a way to get two wins, that’s the biggest thing and now we can focus on getting back to our style at home," McDonagh said.
The Rangers might need to improve that style to avoid a third straight defeat at Madison Square Garden, where they are 12-13-3. They’ve dropped the past three meetings there against the Islanders – after winning the previous eight – with two 5-3 losses this season, most recently Jan. 21. Lundqvist allowed four goals on 19 shots in that game after winning his previous seven home matchups versus the Islanders with a 1.27 goals-against average.
The Islanders haven’t won three straight at the Garden in the same season since 2006-07, and they’ve never won every meeting there in one season when playing in Manhattan more than twice. Their last road sweep in the season series was two games in 2001-02.
The Islanders, however, are 0-3-1 since last week’s victory at MSG. They’ve scored first in three of those contests and held a 2-0 lead in two.
"We’re playing well enough to win, but we’ve got to find a way to win," said coach Jack Capuano, whose team is 0 for 17 on the power play during the four-game slide.
Rookie Brock Nelson scored his seventh goal in 13 games with 1:27 left in the second period Wednesday, but the Rangers’ Benoit Pouliot tied it less than a minute later.
"As big and as great as an experience was… it’s tough to look at the big picture (when you lose)," star John Tavares told the Islanders’ official website. "We played well, but at the end of the day, we didn’t get the points we needed."
Tavares has been shut out in two straight contests following a six-game point streak. His three assists last week at MSG are the only points he’s recorded in his last six games against the Rangers.
Rick Nash’s five-game goal streak ended Wednesday, though he scored twice against the Islanders last week and has six points over his last five indoor games in the series.