The New York Rangers got back on track after an ugly three-game losing streak, but hardly in encouraging fashion.
A similar effort probably won't be nearly good enough to beat the surging New York Islanders when the storied rivalry makes its Barclays Center debut Wednesday night.
The Rangers (17-6-2) held on to beat Carolina 4-3 on Monday to stop a disheartening skid in which they were blown out by Montreal, lost a late lead at Boston and were blanked by Philadelphia. Their 18th win in 19 games against the Hurricanes, though, came after they built a 4-1 lead despite being outplayed for much of the game. New York was outshot 36-22.
Mats Zuccarello and Oscar Lindberg had first-period power-play goals and Chris Kreider and Derick Brassard also scored, while Henrik Lundqvist made 33 saves.
''A win is always big, even though it's not perfect,'' Lundqvist said. ''It's something you can build on. The finish was more important than the start.''
Brassard, who added an assist, ended a six-game goal drought, while Kreider scored for the first time in eight games.
“The second half of this game was just us kind of hanging on,” defenseman Dan Boyle told the team's official website. “We're not happy with the way we played down the stretch, but we managed to get the two points and now we move on.”
They'll do so without Kevin Klein, who had just been promoted to the top defensive pairing with Ryan McDonagh before he suffered a strained abdominal muscle early in the first period and is expected to miss two to three weeks. That means a bigger role for rookie Dylan McIlrath, who's expected to take Klein's spot in the lineup.
Klein is the second key Ranger to be lost to injury in the past week after top center Derek Stepan suffered broken ribs against the Bruins on Friday. He's out four to six weeks.
The Rangers' depth will consequently be tested by the Islanders (13-8-4), who are 3-0-1 in their last four. The fourth line sparked the Isles to a 5-3 victory over Colorado on Monday, as Cal Clutterbuck's goal 1:52 into the third period broke a 2-all tie and Casey Cizikas added a necessary insurance score.
Kyle Okposo, Mikhail Grabovski and Ryan Strome also scored and Thomas Greiss stopped 25 shots.
''Our goalie played extremely well there in the first period that kept the score where it was, or we could've been behind the 8-ball,'' coach Jack Capuano said. ''The name of the game is to get points, so hopefully that will give the guys some confidence as we move forward.''
It didn't take long for the Islanders to turn their focus to their archrivals in Manhattan after the game.
“We've all had it circled for a while,” Strome told the team's website.
The Brooklyn setting – and gleaming modern arena – certainly will present a different look after 33 years of suburban battles between the teams at the small, long-outdated but beloved Nassau Coliseum.
The Rangers have won the last two meetings, both on the road. Lundqvist, however, has dropped three straight starts in the series with a 4.88 goals-against average.
The Islanders' Jaroslav Halak, expected to start Wednesday, has allowed three goals on 45 shots in two outings since getting pulled in a 5-3 loss to Montreal on Nov. 20.
- Chris Kreider
- Dan Boyle
- Derek Stepan
- Derick Brassard
- Dylan McIlrath
- Henrik Lundqvist
- Kevin Klein
- Mats Zuccarello
- New York Rangers
- Oscar Lindberg
- Ryan McDonagh