The New York Rangers continued their strong play with their third consecutive game in a 4-2 fashion over the New York Islanders Thursday night. The win pulled the Rangers within two points of the first place Flyers as the two teams will battle it out tomorrow night. Michael Del Zotto continued his excellent play of late with a goal and a plus three to push him to a tremendous plus-20 this year.
Martin Biron continued his excellent play this season making 24 saves to improve to 7-1 on the season. The play of Biron is a key factor for the Rangers success in both the short and long term outlook for the season. His play to win the games he starts and give more rest to Henrik Lundqvist so he is fresh down the stretch in the playoffs makes him such an asset for New York.
The New York Rangers started a little slow and had too many defensive zone turnovers early in the first period, but Martin Biron bailed them out, most notably on a beautiful save against Michael Grabner mid-way through the period. Tavares found an open Grabner who looked like a lock to score on the half open net, but Biron slid across and robbed him with the pad before making a rebound save as well. Biron had some help from Tim Erixon when he pinned his body against the post and kept the puck out of the net.
Late in the first period the Rangers got a much needed goal from Brandon Dubinsky. The goal was a pure example of how Dubinsky plays when he is at his best. Taking the puck from behind his own net Dubinsky sped up the right wing boards around multiple Islanders defenders and had no hesitation firing the shot from the faceoff circle far side to beat Nabokov. The Rangers need more of that from Dubinsky in the long run if they are going to continue to get the results they have gotten thus far.
After McDonagh took a penalty late in the first period, P.A. Parenteau tied the game for the Islanders just 18 seconds into the second. Parenteau converted a Streit rebound.
The Rangers regained control of the game after Artem Anisimov won an offensive zone faceoff and fed Marian Gaborik for his 20th goal of the season. The goal tied Gaborik for the NHL lead in goal with Steven Stamkos and Jonathan Toews before Phil Kessel also joined the 20 goal club.
New York gained a two goal lead when Michael Del Zotto continued his excellent play of late ripping a slapshot passed Nabokov at 15:25 of the period. The shot from the faceoff circle on a rolling puck was impressive in itself, but when you look at the anticipation and reading of the play by Del Zotto to be in the spot in the first place it becomes even more impressive.
Stu Bickel gave the Islanders some life towards the middle of the third period when during a scrum after the whistle he was assessed an extra two minutes for his altercation with Tim Wallace. On the ensuing power play Matt Moulson made the Rangers pay when he converted a Mark Streit rebound. Bickel has shown a willingness to get involved physically in his first two games with the Rangers, but he has to be smarter about when to do so.
John Mitchell added the empty-netter with 1:33 remaining to cap the 4-2 win.
- Del Zotto has been amongst the Rangers best players the past few weeks and has stepped up more and more with each defender that goes down.
- Gaborik is a man possessed this year and doing everything he wasn’t last year getting so many goals around the front of the net.
- Dubinsky is getting back to playing his type of game.
- Hagelin continues to be noticeable each game.
- Bickel will be a fan favorite quickly with his willingness to stand up for teammates and drop the gloves.