With a lopsided outdoor victory already under their belt, the New York Rangers hope that experience will give them an edge when they head to Yankee Stadium for a second time in four days.
They’ll be looking to hand the New York Islanders a fourth straight loss Wednesday night as the rivals renew acquaintances in a Stadium Series game.
John Tavares recorded three assists as the Islanders claimed a 5-3 victory at Madison Square Garden last Tuesday, their second straight in the series after they had dropped eight of the previous 10, including this season’s first meeting. However, they’ve since dropped three in a row against top competition, surrendering a total of 15 goals to Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Boston.
The Rangers lost to the Blues on Thursday before bouncing back with a 7-3 victory over New Jersey on Sunday as the designated away team at Yankee Stadium.
The Rangers (28-23-3) will be the league’s lone team to play in two outdoor contests this season, while the Islanders will be playing outdoors for the first time.
"It’s unique, it’s a different element and it should be a lot of fun," Tavares said after Monday’s 6-3 home loss to the Bruins. "(We’ve) talked about it for a long time and hopefully it’s a good way to get over this loss and the last couple."
Rick Nash, who scored twice in the first period last week against the Islanders, scored for the fifth straight contest against the Devils to help the Rangers rally from a 3-1 first-period deficit.
"We have to make sure there’s no letdown from our first game there," defenseman Dan Girardi told the league’s website. "We know (the Islanders) will be full of excitement, their first chance to play there, so we have to have that same excitement we had going into the first game."
Nash has seven goals over his last five games after tallying as many over his previous 22 contests. He has six points in his last five matchups with the Islanders.
Nash’s goal was one of four in the second period against Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur, who called the surface the worst ice he had played on.
Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist got off to a shaky start, surrendering three goals on the first nine shots he saw. He seemed to settle in, stopping the next 13 shots on goal.
"I was half asleep. Mentally somewhere else, but then I regrouped and I am happy with how I finished," said Lundqvist, who had posted a 1.14 goals-against average while winning six straight starts against the Islanders before allowing four goals on 19 shots in a Dec. 20 loss.
The Islanders (21-26-8), who are last in the Metropolitan Division and trail the second-place Rangers by nine points, practiced at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday.
They matched the Bruins’ 37 shots after outshooting the Penguins and Blues.
"We played well but didn’t bury enough chances," Kyle Okposo, who had a team-high six shots and scored once.
Okposo, who also had two assists, has a six-game point streak and has six goals and eight assists over his last nine contests.
Tavares’ six-game point streak was snapped.
Kevin Poulin, who faced 36 shots, was pulled in the third period in favor of Evgeni Nabokov, who was taken off the injured list earlier in the day. Nabokov is 2-2-3 with a 2.64 goals-against average over his last seven starts against the Rangers, while Poulin stopped 30 shots in last week’s win in his only career matchup.
The Rangers have converted five of their 15 power plays this season against the Islanders and have scored on the advantage in eight of the last nine meetings with 13 goals on 39 chances.