The Rangers scored three power plays goals and once short handed to defeat the visiting New York Islanders 6-3 at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night. Marian Gaborik scored twice to lead the Rangers attack while Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves to earn the win.
The Islanders got off to a slow start in the first period, allowing 21 shots on goal.
“We weren’t moving our feet,” Matt Moulson admitted.
The Rangers quickly took advantage and opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal by Brandon Prust. The play was set up by a strong rush by Ryan McDonagh who carried the puck through the Islanders defense and put the puck on net. Isles goalie Al Montoya made the save but Prust was uncovered and put home the rebound just 3:47 into the game.
Erik Christensen doubled the Rangers lead on a power play goal on a wrist shot from just inside the blue line. Montoya was screened on the play.
The Isles fought back valiantly and tied the game with a pair of goals just 2:29 apart early in the second period. Moulson deflected a one-timer by Jack Hillen from between the circles to pull the Isles to within a goal. The play was set up by an accurate pass by John Tavares from behind the Rangers net. It was Moulson’s 30th goal of the season, giving him 30 for the second straight season.
“It would be a lot nicer if they were contributing to big wins,” Moulson said after the game. “I’ve got to do whatever it takes to win, so if I’ve got to get a couple more, I’ll get a couple more.”
P.A. Parenteau tied the game when he batted a waist high pass by Tavares out of mid-air to complete a 2-on-1 break at the 3:50 mark of the second period.
With the score tied, the play settled down until Ryan Callahan tapped home the puck from five feet out to give the Rangers a lead they never relinquished. Artem Anisimov’s pass deflected off Montoya’s skate and came right to Callahan who was unchecked in front of the goal.
“The third goal was the back breaker and it just snowballed from there,” Montoya explained. “I thought I had it. I lost sight of it. I went back to the post and I stayed down. Somehow, I didn’t even touch the puck and it went underneath.”
The Rangers power play clicked twice more late in the second period to put the game out of reach. After Bryan McCabe broke up a shorthanded Isles rush, Gaborik rushed the puck down the right wing and beat Montoya with a wrist shot from the circle.
Then McCabe scored on a 5-on-3 advantage with just 48.7 seconds remaining on a shot from the top of the circle. The Rangers made several good passes to lead up to McCabe’s open shot.
“We were right there and then obviously got into penalty trouble,” Isles Coach Jack Capuano said. “They’ve got a pretty good [power play] unit if you give them some chances, especially 5-0n-3.”
Capuano replaced Montoya with Nathan Lawson when the teams took the ice for the third period.
“I just thought he looked a little fatigued,” explained the Isles coach. “Pucks were finding some holes. He’s battled hard for us over the past month.”
It was a disappointing return to Madison Square Garden for Montoya who was selected by the Rangers sixth overall in the 2004 Entry Draft.
“It was just an exciting moment,” Montoya said. “I wanted to go out there and give the team a chance but was just a night the bounces didn’t go right for me.”
Lawson allowed Gaborik’s second goal of the game midway through the final period before Tavares scored a late goal to close out the scoring and earn his third point of the night.
The Islanders return to action Friday night when they travel to Raleigh to face the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Rangers scratched Wojtek Wolski and Matt Gilroy while the suspended Trevor Gillies was the only scratch for the Isles.
The loss ended a streak of seven straight games the Islanders had picked up at least one point (4-0-3).
The Islanders now trail the season series 4-1.