Rangers, Islanders move indoors; Blueshirts win again
NEW YORK (AP)
Outside and inside, the New York Rangers got the best of the New York Islanders in a pair of decisive third periods.
Two nights after winning the Battle of New York in the frigid air at Yankee Stadium, the Rangers broke up a tie game in the warm confines of Madison Square Garden and dealt the sliding Islanders another loss, 4-1 on Friday.
Derick Brassard scored the go-ahead goal with 7:46 left. Brad Richards connected moments later, and Ryan McDonagh found an empty net with 1 second left.
"It was exciting to be back and play against this team again," said Henrik Lundqvist, who shined in making 38 saves. "We came out in the third and really made a big push. It's a great feeling when it pays off like that."
The Rangers played indoors for the first time in eight days, before their back-to-back outdoor wins over the New Jersey Devils and Islanders at Yankee Stadium. Brian Boyle added a first-period goal, and defenseman Marc Staal had two assists for the Rangers (30-23-3), who have won three straight and six of eight.
It didn't take long to get acclimated again to the great indoors.
"Other than not needing the Long Johns, I can't think of anything," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "It was a lot of fun outside, I hope we have the opportunity to do it again, but playing inside this building in front of our fans ... this is pretty good, too."
The Rangers took the lead for good while the teams skated 4-on-4. During a delayed penalty, Brassard took a cross-zone feed from Staal and fired a shot past Evgeni Nabokov to make it 2-1.
Richards provided insurance with 5:01 remaining and McDonagh pushed the lead to 4-1.
"We have found a certain comfort level with the way we're playing," Staal said. "We know what we have to do to win hockey games.
"We're comfortable going into the third period like that. We have guys that can make big plays at big times."
Brian Boyle gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead in the first period before Kyle Okposo tied it in the second.
The Rangers, who topped the Islanders 2-1 on Daniel Carcillo's third-period goal Wednesday night, won the season series 3-2. The teams met for the third time in 11 days.
Nabokov made 33 saves for the Islanders, who dropped their fifth straight (0-4-1) after winning seven of nine. They are last in the Metropolitan Division, 13 points behind the second-place Rangers.
"We ran out of gas a little," captain John Tavares said. "We've played a lot of hockey. We didn't seem to have that extra gear when we needed it.
"Every loss is magnified -- this loss, the outdoor game, the game before that."
The Islanders controlled play in the second period, holding an 18-6 edge in shots, and got even on Okposo's 24th goal. During a power play, the Islanders spent much of the advantage in the Rangers zone and tied it 5 seconds after McDonagh left the penalty box.
Calvin de Haan fired a shot from inside the blue line at the right point that Lundqvist knocked away. The puck came to Okposo near the left post. He settled it and sent a shot in to make it 1-all with 5:32 left in the second.
Okposo got right back on the score sheet after being blanked at Yankee Stadium. He has scored a goal in five of seven games and has six assists in that span.
"This was a big game for us. Not connecting on chance after chance hurt," Okposo said. "We still had energy. Thought we were solid. Their goalie played a great game."
The Rangers held a 1-0 lead at the end of the first after outshooting the Islanders 14-12. They recorded the first six shots, but trailed 11-9 before going back on top.
Boyle scored his fourth of the season and 50th in the NHL when he deflected Staal's shot from the center of the blue line off the crossbar and past Nabokov at 3:29. It was Boyle's first goal in 12 games but his third point in three games after he posted an assist in each of the Yankee Stadium contests.
After weathering the early Rangers onslaught, the Islanders generated plenty of pressure and drew the only power play of the period when Brassard held de Haan in the offensive zone. The Islanders had four shots on the advantage.
Lundqvist's best stop of the period came when he slid across the crease to get his right pad on a one-timer by Josh Bailey in tight. Lundqvist later used his left pad to block Okposo's hard drive from the slot.
NOTES: The Rangers honored longtime television voice Sam Rosen before the game for 30 years with the team. ... Boyle has 95 points in 365 NHL games. ... Nabokov made his second straight start after returning from injury in a relief role on Monday.