For about 10 minutes into the second period -- after the New York Rangers blew a 2-0 lead to the New York Islanders just four minutes in -- the momentum had shifted away from the Blueshirts and it appeared they were prime candidates to squander two more crucial points. Then the floodgates opened, as the Rangers scored four unanswered goals, propelling them to a 6-3 victory.
Much of the game was the hockey equivalent of a track meet -- a lot of fast-paced action, mostly controlled by the Rangers, but certainly ample scoring chances for the Isles. Though the Rangers outshot the Isles, 47-28, there were times that the Rangers defense was a little too relaxed, specifically on the two goals the Islanders would score in the second period less than three minutes apart, one by Matt Moulson and the second by P.A. Parenteau off a splendid feed by John Tavares.
The Rangers' special teams play was excellent tonight: 3-for-5 on the power play and 2-for-3 on the penalty kill. An early goal by Brandon Prust, his fifth on the penalty kill, began the scoring -- and at 14:52 Erik Christensen snapped a wicked wrist shot past Al Montoya for the 2-0 first-period lead. The Rangers would then be a little to "loose" on defense in the first half of the second period and the Islanders would capitalize to knot the game at two apiece.
But then, all of a sudden, it clicked for good. Ryan Callahan put home his 21st of the season on a pretty feed from Artem Anisimov, Marian Gaborik scored on the power play and Brian McCabe fired a shot on the man advantage 49 seconds before the second period's completion to give the Blueshirts a commanding 5-2 lead. Gaborik would score again in the third period, his third in four games, as what appeared to have the potential for a devastating loss turned into a a good old fashioned whooping for the home team at Madison Square Garden. Tavares would score a meaningless power-play goal for the Islanders with less than five minutes left in the game.
Besides just the two points in the standings, there was a lot to like about this game. First and foremost, Gaborik's assertiveness on the offensive side: two goals and seven shots on goal. Christensen, who was very engaged and has nine points in his past seven games played, with a goal and an assist. Callahan also continues to be a force on the offensive side of things with 19 points in 18 games since his return from injury. And Henrik Lundqvist was superb in goal when he needed to be. Add all of this to a power play that was 60 percent effective and the Rangers earned two very important points ... considering the Devils won again, and the Hurricanes won as well.