Despite outplaying their foes in even strength for the majority of the game, the New York Rangers tried to give the New York Islanders all the chances in the world to snap their six-game winning streak Tuesday night at the Nassau Coliseum. The Blueshirts couldn't convert on the power play and were undisciplined -- and the Isles took advantage of one of their power-play chances early in the third. But with the score tied at 15:05, Brad Richards came up huge, rocketing a slapshot for the game-winner, in the Rangers' 4-2 defeat of their local rivals. The Rangers have now won seven straight, their longest winning streak in two years.
The Blueshirts dominated the first period, outshooting the Islanders 14-5, but Evgeni Nabokov was steady in net for the Islanders. Sean Avery, however, got the Rangers on the board first, scoring his second in his last two games. Avery played another solid game and was involved throughout. He was on the ice for close to 12 minutes, despite getting a minor penalty -- which was undeserved -- and getting into a fight. Lately, it's clear that Avery belongs and if he can stay disciplined, he can be an asset to this team. Yet after the agitator scored, the Isles came right back as Frans Nielsen lifted a shot past Henrik Lundqvist -- one the netminder probably wishes he'd have back.
After two separate fights and a minor penalty to Steve Eminger early in the second period, the Blueshirts again lit the lamp. Eminger was the recipient of great board work by Ryan Callahan and a pristine pass, as he scored his 18th goal in his 427th NHL career game. The Rangers then filled the penalty box with three straight minors, but Lundqvist made up for the soft goal with several spectacular saves. The second period was pretty much the opposite of the first, as the Isles outshot the Rangers 16-8 but only the world-class goaltending of Lundqvist kept the score the same. Then, the Isles took three straight minors -- even giving the Rangers a five-on-three -- yet the Rangers, despite some great looks, could not convert.
Matt Moulson finally punished the Blueshirts in the third for being undisciplined and sent home an easy goal at the front of the crease via a pass from John Tavares. Richards scored his sixth about eight minutes later and Ryan Callahan added his eighth on an empty netter.
This was a game that, on paper, the Rangers should've easily walked away with. These games tend to bring out the best in the Islanders, however, and the Rangers knew they had to withstand the young team's surges. The Blueshirts were able to do that with great goaltending by Lundqvist, timely goal scoring and generally sticking with the gameplan of creating offense off of tireless forechecking. The Isles were good in spurts, but were beaten to too many pucks and were scrambling far too often on the defensive end.
The Rangers are now in the midst of a superb 10-2-1 stretch, while the Isles have won just once in their last 11 games.