Uniondale, NY (Sports Network) – Marian Gaborik recorded his 12th career hat trick to lead the New York Rangers to a 6-5 win over the cross-town rival Islanders in the opener of a home-and-home set at Nassau Coliseum.
Ryan Callahan, Brandon Prust and Erik Christensen also scored for the Rangers, who have won three of their last four games. Marty Biron started in goal for the Rangers and allowed three goals on 21 shots before he was replaced by Henrik Lundqvist, who finished with nine saves.
Michael Grabner, Blake Comeau, Zenon Konopka, Rob Schremp and Matt Moulson scored for the lowly Islanders, who are now winless in 15 of their last 16 games overall. Rick DiPietro allowed all six goals on 26 shots in the loss.
The teams will meet again on Friday at Madison Square Garden.
“This was a huge win for our confidence in terms of getting the win and skating well, but we need to eliminate some of our mistakes and get ready for tomorrow,” Lundqvist said.
The Islanders trailed 5-3 in the third period, but scored twice within a 1:41 span and tied the game. Grabner’s marker from the slot at the 12:29 mark preceded a shaky rebound tally by Comeau from in close shortly after. Comeau’s backhander barely crossed the goal line, but knotted the contest with 5:50 to play in regulation.
Gaborik, though, completed his hat trick only 25 seconds later and put the Rangers in front for good. Gaborik was in strong position at the top of the crease and put home a loose puck after an attempt by Christensen.
The Rangers opened the scoring at the 8:11 mark of the first period when Christensen’s wrister from a sharp angle inside the low right circle beat DiPietro to the near side up high.
At the 17:07 mark of the first, Callahan’s eighth goal made it 2-0. Following a turnover in the Islanders’ defensive zone, Brandon Dubinsky gained control and, from below the left circle, passed to Callahan for a successful redirection from the top of the crease.
Konopka’s rebound tally with 49 ticks to go in the first cut the hosts’ deficit in half.
Near the midpoint of the second stanza, the Isles tied it up. John Tavares held control along the left half wall and slid a backhand pass into the goal mouth, where Moulson corralled the disc and quickly deked to his forehand before he beat Biron from near the left post.
“In the second period, we didn’t play as well defensively and they got some odd-man rushes because of that,” said Callahan.
With 7:30 to go in the second, Schremp’s rocket one-timer from the centerpoint gave the Isles the lead, but it was quickly erased 51 seconds later. Marc Staal fired a shot from the left point and Prust got his stick on it for a deflection. However, the puck ended up bouncing off the body of Islanders blueliner Andrew MacDonald and it went into the back of the net.
The Rangers regained the lead on the power play with 3:36 to go before the second intermission. Gaborik’s pass from the lower right circle was intended for Callahan at the far post, but an Islanders stick accidentally deflected the disc past DiPietro.
Sean Avery set up Gaborik’s second goal of the contest with a pass from the rear boards. Gaborik collected the disc near the top of the crease and fired home a wrister over DiPietro’s shoulder 3:31 into the final stanza.
“If you watch (Gaborik) play, and you know where he’s going to be, it’s easy to get him the puck,” said Avery. “He reads the play so well and gets open.”
There were two fights: in the first period, heavyweight Derek Boogaard took on Todd Gillies, while Mike Sauer dropped the gloves with Travis Hamonic in the second…Avery finished with three assists…The Rangers were 1-for-2 on the power play, while the Isles failed on their lone chance with the extra skater…The Rangers have captured eight of the last 10 matchups on Long Island…DiPietro allowed two goals on only five shots in the final period.