Wednesday night at frigid Yankee Stadium the Rangers remained hot while playing outdoors, winning for the second straight time this week in the Bronx, skating past the Islanders, 2-1, three nights after their 7-3 victory over the Devils. Including the 2012 Winter Classic--a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers--the Rangers own a league-best 3-0-0 record in games played outdoors.
Henrik Lundqvist starred between the pipes for the Rangers , stopping 30 of 31 shots. He has backstopped all three Rangers outdoor victories in their history. After facing 25 shots through two periods of play, Lundqvist saw his teammates shut down the Islanders in the third period, holding their rivals to only five shots on goal.
A smart two-way shift from their fourth line helped the Rangers snap a 1-1 tie early in the third period and score the eventual game-winning goal. After causing a turnover at center ice the Rangers took off the other way in transition, and Daniel Carcillo finished things off by banging the rebound of Dominic Moore's right-wing shot past Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov, giving the Rangers their first lead of the game at 4:36 of the third period.
The goal was Carcillo's third of the season, and second as a Ranger since coming over from the L.A. Kings in a trade. With the primary assist, Moore picked up his third point in the two outdoor games the Rangers played at Yankee Stadium this week.
After playing more than 38 minutes of scoreless hockey, the two teams exchanged goals in a span of 40 seconds late in the second period to head into the warmth of their locker rooms tied 1-1 at the second intermission.
The Islanders--who had the better of the scoring chances in each of the first two periods--broke through first at 18:33 on a Brock Nelson goal in which the Rangers were out-manned down low. Cal Clutterbuck won a battle along the left wing boards then found Matt Donovan between the circles with his pass. As Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein approached Donovan, the Islanders d-man swung a quick pass to a wide open Nelson on right wing and he rifled his tenth goal of the season into the cage--the Islanders' 25th shot against a very sharp Lundqvist.
What could have been a backbreaking goal against late in the second was nullified when Benoit Pouliot tied the game 40 seconds later. Derick Brassard tried to bank a backhand shot/pass from the side of the net off Nabokov into the cage, but the puck hopped over the prone Islanders goalie and Pouliot--camped out in front--jammed the loose puck over the goal line. Pouliot's ninth goal--scored with just 46.3 seconds remaining in the period--set the stage for the thrilling finish in the Bronx.
The Rangers were out-shot 10-6 in the opening period and 15-14 in a second period that featured much better all-around play by both teams after a bevy of icings and offsides limited any flow in the first 20 minutes. Lundqvist helped the Rangers survive a very strong start to the second period by the Islanders, and once things settled down the Rangers began to tilt the ice a bit the other way in the second half of the middle stanza.
Strong play on the penalty kill helped the Rangers keep the game scoreless until Nelson's goal late in the second, too. The Rangers killed off all three Islander power plays in rather dominating fashion, with Dominic Moore, Ryan Callahan, and Brian Boyle standing out up front, and the defense pairings of Ryan McDonagh with Dan Girardi and Marc Staal with Anton Stralman locking things down when the Rangers were shorthanded.
While the Islanders were granted three power plays the Rangers had none through two periods. The one time it seemed they were about to head to the man advantage when Kyle Okposo was whistled for holding Rick Nash, the officials also sent Nash to the box for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Twenty-three seconds into the third period the Rangers finally earned their first power play of the night when Nash was hauled down by the Islanders Thomas Vanek. The Rangers fired five shots on Nabokov over the next two minutes, but the Isles goalie held them off the scoreboard, coming up with big-time point-blanks saves on Nash and Derek Stepan.
Having swept the Stadium Series games against the Devils and Islanders, the Rangers return indoors to host the Islanders Friday night at Madison Square Garden.