For the second time in two games, the New York Rangers defeated the New York Islanders and closed out the month of January going 10-4-1. Tonight the Rangers struggled a bit during the middle part of the game, but came out surging in the third period where they eventually put three goals past Evgeni Nabokov. Henrik Lundqvist had a monster game along with Marc Staal, and Mats Zuccarello. Rick Nash had some spurts as well, but it appeared as if he was trying to do too much at times, and it wound up hurting him more than helping.
From the opening face-off, the Rangers went right to work in the offensive zone, and hounded the Isles defensemen below the goal line. It would only take them a little over three minutes to pot the first goal as Brian Boyle redirected a pick at the top of the blue paint. Dominic Moore did an outstanding job along the boards in order to get the puck to Marc Staal, and Staal quickly ripped a shot towards the net. Boyle wound up getting a very slight piece of the puck as it flew by, and it tucked under the crossbar for the 1-0 lead.
Heading into the second period, you had to figure there would be a tremendous push back from the Islanders, and they took it to the Rangers throughout the second. They wound up generating a total of 19 shots on goal, while the Rangers were only able to muster up a measly six shots on net. In the final six minutes of the period, Kyle Okposo finally put the Isles on the board with a huge rebound that kicked out to the side of the net. The Rangers had just finished up a huge penalty kill for Ryan McDonagh's hooking penalty, but they were able to get fresh legs on the ice due to the long chance.
Marc Staal, and Dan Girardi were practically crawling off of the ice following the goal, and there wasn't much that could have been done to prevent it. Henrik Lundqvist only picked up the puck at the last second, and wasn't able to snag it with his glove up high. The puck wound up taking a strange bounce to the side of the net, and Okposo tapped it into the yawning cage with ease.
The Rangers needed some type of wake up call heading into the third period, and whatever was said during the intermission, it did just that. You could tell just by the way the Rangers were generating chances, that they were going to breakthrough at one point or another. At the 12:14, the Rangers finally grabbed their second lead of the evening off of a goal coming from Derick Brassard. Mats Zuccarello basically creates this play on his own as he sucks Cal Clutterbuck into a hooking penalty, but continues to truck it up ice with the puck. Not only did Zuccarello make Clutterbuck look silly once, he did it again by faking him to the ice, and quickly dishing it off to Marc Staal on the far side.
Staal wasted almost no time, and immediately saw Derick Brassard wide open on the back door and put it right on his tape. Brassard eventually flipped the puck over Nabokov and gave the Rangers a late 2-1 lead. The goal scoring didn't stop there though. A little over a minute and a half later, Ryan Callahan set up Brad Richards with a beautiful lead pass, and sprung him in a partial breakaway. With Nabokov out to practically the hash marks, Richards ripped it through the five hole and gave the Rangers a commanding 3-1 late in the third period.
Ryan McDonagh finally capped off the scoring with one second to go as he lifted the puck from his own end, and hit the empty net to make it 4-1. For those of you counting at home, that's now three straight wins for the Rangers as they continue to create some space in the standings. The Rangers have three more games on the slate before they head into the Olympic break. The Colorado Avalanche are up next this coming Tuesday.