Blueshirts blow away Isles after 'hiccup'
Four straight tallies after losing early lead result in 6-3 romp at MSG
|Rangers forward Brandon Prust was the picture of euphoria early in Tuesday night's game after he scored a shorthanded goal against Al Montoya to give his team a 1-0 lead at 3:47 of the first period.
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By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
Returning home from a week-long trip to the West Coast, the Rangers showed no ill effects from jet lag Tuesday night as they skated their way to an important 6-3 victory over the Islanders at Madison Square Garden.
With the victory, the Rangers, who have won four of their last five games, moved past the Buffalo Sabres into seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 78 points. Buffalo was shut out by Carolina 1-0 on Tuesday.
Marian Gaborik scored twice for the Blueshirts, while former Islander Bryan McCabe joined Ryan Callahan and Erik Christensen in recording both a goal and an assist for a Rangers team that tallied three power-play goals and also scored shorthanded in the game.
“We knew (the Islanders) had been playing well lately, so we knew had to have a big game,” said Gaborik, who has scored three goals in his last three games. “It was a big win for us. It was important, especially in front of these great fans, to score some goals and get some important points.”
After letting a 2-0 first-period lead dissipate into a 2-2 tie just 3:50 into the second period, the Rangers regained their footing and scored three unanswered goals before reaching the second intermission.
At the core of the home team’s return to form was its revived power play. And at the heart of the Rangers’ power play was McCabe, the former Islander who was taking part in this heated rivalry for the first time as a Ranger. After Callahan had put the Rangers back in front with his team-leading 21st goal at the 11:31 mark of the middle period, McCabe earned a power-play assist and then scored a power-play goal before the period was over.
|Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist makes of his 25 saves, stopping the Islanders' Josh Bailey on Tuesday night at The Garden. Lundqvist has now won four straight starts against the Islanders at MSG.
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Sprinting back into his own end to break up a shorthanded rush by the Islanders, McCabe swatted the puck to the right-wing boards where Gaborik collected the disc and whisked it the other way.
Gaborik, who had been robbed on the power play just moments before by sprawling Islanders’ goaltender Al Montoya, crossed the blueline, drifted towards the middle of the ice, and unleashed a wicked snap shot that beat the Isles goalie to the stick side.
Gaborik’s 19th goal of the season -- assisted by McCabe -- came at 15:09 of the second, and restored the Rangers’ two-goal advantage.
“It was a one-on-one and I was just trying to get the puck off of the guy,” said McCabe. “Then Gaby picked it up, and great players make great plays. The guy went coast to coast and scored, so what can you say about him? He’s awesome.”
Shortly thereafter the Rangers were handed a 50-second 5-on3 power play when, first, Travis Hamonic was whistled for tripping Callahan at 17:17 and then Michael Grabner was penalized for hooking Brandon Dubinsky at 18:28. The Rangers fired four shots on goal during the two-man advantage, the last resulting in McCabe’s first goal since being acquired by the Blueshirts from Florida eight games ago.
Following diligent work down low by Vinny Prospal and Callahan, McCabe blasted a shot past Montoya with 48.7 seconds remaining to play in the second period to put the Rangers up 5-2.
McCabe, who was originally selected by the Islanders in the second round of the 1993 draft, skated with one leg raised and pumped his right arm in celebration after scoring his sixth goal of the season as The Garden erupted in a deafening roar.
“Obviously against one of my former teams, the one I actually started with, sure it was nice to get one here at home, contribute that way to a big win,” said McCabe. “When you get a 5-on-3 you’ve got to put teams away. That’s the time you need to score because it’s a big momentum swing if another team can kill that. Cally made a great screen in front. Vinny made a great pass back to me. All I had to do was hit the net.”
|Alternate captain Ryan Callahan celebrates his team-leading 21st goal of the season, which broke a 2-2 tie at 11:31 of the second period. The goal gave the team a lead it would never relinquish and was the first of four straight tallies by the Blueshirts.
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Brandon Prust scored his 11th goal of the season -- and league-high-tying fifth shorthanded goal -- just 3:47 into the game, and Christensen also scored his 11th, on the power play, at 14:52, to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead. Lundqvist made a string of acrobatic stops among the 12 saves he made in the first period, including a pair on Kyle Okposo from point-blank range.
“Hank made some key saves at key times for us,” said Tortorella. “We were trading chances with them and we don’t like to exchange chances like that. We can’t play that way. But Hank made the key saves when we needed them.”
It took the Islanders less than four minutes of play in the second period to tie the score. Matt Moulson deflected a Jack Hillen shot past Lundqvist at 1:21 for his 30th goal of the year, and that was followed by a pretty goal by former Ranger PA Parenteau, who batted a puck out of mid-air off the rush for his 17th goal at 3:50.
At that point the Islanders had four shots on goal in the period and seemed poised to take the game over, but the Rangers regained control by allowing the visitors only one more shot the remainder of the second period.
“Our first period was good, but at the beginning of the second period we had a little hiccup,” said Gaborik. “It was a big goal by Cally, and then we were rolling from there.”
Montoya, who was selected in the first round of the 2004 draft by the Rangers and was facing the Blueshirts for the first time in his NHL career, was removed from the game by Isles head coach Jack Capuano after two periods of play. Montoya surrendered five goals on 36 shots, and was replaced by rookie Nathan Lawson.
Gaborik beat Lawson off the rush 12:43 into the third period for his second goal of the game and his 20th of the season. He became the fourth Ranger this season to reach 20 goals, joining Callahan, Dubinsky, and Brian Boyle. Gaborik has now had seven 20-goal seasons in his National Hockey League career.
“It’s always nice to score, definitely,” said Gaborik. “But more importantly it was a big win. This is a big stretch for us, a big challenge (to make the playoffs).”
The Rangers look for their third straight win when they host the Montreal Canadiens in an Original Six match-up on Friday night at MSG. From there the Blueshirts close out the week with a road contest in Pittsburgh against the Penguins on Sunday afternoon.