The Rangers came out flying in this game and put the Isles on their heels early. Brandon Prust got the Blueshirts on the board just 3:47 into the first period when he buried a Ryan McDonagh rebound shorthanded. Credit to McDonagh for making the strong move around the defense and to the net. He's been a stud defensively since being recalled, but now he is adding some offense to his game as well. Erik Christensen would later give the Rangers a 2-0 lead when his wrist shot from the point made its way past goaltender Al Montoya on the powerplay.
New York had one rough patch in this game and it was during the first four minutes or so of the second period. Matt Moulson and P.A. Parenteau took advantage of back-to-back defensive breakdowns to tie the game at two to open the second. Head coach John Tortorella calmed his squad during the commercial break that followed and it seemed to work.
Ryan Callahan netted his 21st of the season when Artem Anisimov's spin-pass through the crease landed right on his blade to re-gain the lead. It may have been a lucky goal, but heads up play by Artie to change direction in Montoya's blindspot to throw the netminder off. Marian Gaborik followed that up with a quick snapshot with the man advantage for his first of the game, and then Brian McCabe scored his first as a Ranger on the powerplay late in the period to give the Blueshirts a 5-2 lead.
Marian Gaborik scored his second of the tilt at 12:43 of the third period to continue his usual stat padding against the Isles. John Tavares made it a 6-3 game thanks to a foolish penalty taken by Sean Avery late in the third, but to no avail as the Rangers easily were able to close out the victory and get the two points.
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The Rangers had a big offensive night tonight, but I think that their best player was Henrik Lundqvist. The Islanders had several prime scoring chances that could have made this game a lot closer than it was, but King Henrik made some outstanding stops (25 to be exact) throughout the night. His robbery of Okposo in the first, the great stop on Parenteau - the list goes on and on. Lundqvist was amazing in goal for New York tonight, and as I've been saying, he needs to be and has been the club's best player in the latter stages of the season here.
Erik Christensen stood out to me on offense tonight. In addition to recording a goal and an assist, Christensen was dominant with the puck on his blade and a few times made some pretty sweet dipsy-doodle moves around the Islander defense. It seems that knowing his job is on the line has lit a fire under "Crusher" because he's been stellar since returning to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for a couple games.
Speaking of healthy scratches, you can almost guarantee that Sean Avery will be one on Friday against Montreal. He took three total penalties in this game, two of which were in the offensive zone. The last one in the third period was completely unnecessary and I know Tortorella will not be happy about that one, especially since it cost the team a goal against. He needs to be much smarter than he was tonight.
Glad to see Marian Gaborik gain some confidence with a two goal night and being named the game's first star. Gabby had time and space to shoot the puck and that's just what he did. Those two goals were vintage Marian - the quick snapshot from the slot. I just hope that he now will have the confidence to continue to do that against other opponents than just the Isles.
As usual, Duballahan brought some spark to the lineup as well. Callahan had a goal and an assist while Dubinsky had an assist, as that line continues to roll for the Rangers. Anisimov was strong at center for them as well, also picking up an assist.
Defensively, rookies Ryan McDonagh and Michael Sauer were great. What is there not to love about these two? They are aggressive in the defensive zone and are playing like veterans, and just recently both of them have added some offense as well. Boy did they turn out to be gems for this team.
The Rangers are now 4-1-0 against the Islanders this season and with the two points picked up tonight pulled ahead of the Sabres for seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Carolina beat Buffalo, 1-0, tonight FYI.