Jaromir Jagr’s two first period power-play goals were more than enough offense last night at the Nassau Coliseum as the Rangers ensured a position in the postseason with a convincing 3-0 victory against the injury depleted Islanders. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 25 shots for his league-leading tenth shutout of the season; the first Rangers golatender to do so in many decades. With the two points, the Rangers are in fifth place in the conference and can still move up to fourth (and get first round home ice advantage)if they beat the Isles tonight and the Devils on Sunday as long as the Devils also lose to Philadelphia tonight.
Both clubs played very tentatively during the first half of the opening period. The crowd, which was full of Rangers fans, eagerly anticipated some serious action, but here wasn’t much going on. But just 20 seconds after Bill Guerin was called for slashing at 13:31, Jagr one-timed a long range shot that glanced off the right post and then off Wade Dubielewicz. The arena erupted in joy and it seemed as if the Rangers were playing at home, there was so much support for them.
Freddy Meyer was sent to the box for holding shortly thereafter, and Jagr made the Isles pay again. His low snap shot beat Dubielewicz low and his 23rd of the season doubled the Blueshirts advantage.
After a scoreless and evenly played second period, the Isles wasted their best shot to get back in the game. With three minutes elapsed in the third, Sean Bergenheim missed a great chance to narrow the gap; his shot slid under Lundqvist and hit the post after a two-on-one rush. At 7:39, Martin Straka blasted a shot home past a screened Dubielewicz to increase the visitors lead to 3-0. The game was over and the Rangers clinched a playoff spot.
Shots on goal for the game favored the Blueshirts 35-25. The Islanders took too many penalties and it proved costly. Jagr chose a great time to finally score two goals in one period; he hadn’t done that at all this season. The home-and-home concludes tonight at MSG.