Islanders-Rangers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 21, 2011
ANDY LEFKOWITZ STATS Writer The New York Rangers haven't been tested much during a four-game home winning streak over the New York Islanders. That may change Thursday night when the longtime bitter Atlantic Division rivals meet at Madison Square Garden for the first time this season. The Rangers and Islanders have already split two games at Nassau Coliseum, with each club totaling six goals. The Rangers have struggled on special teams in those matchups, failing to score on eight power-play chances while the Isles have gone 3 for 13 with the man advantage. The results have been far different for the Rangers (19-8-4) during recent meetings in Manhattan. John Tortorella's club has a 20-5 scoring edge while going 8 for 20 on the power play over the last four matchups at MSG. They should expect a tougher game this time considering the Islanders (11-14-6) have shown vast improvement on the road, going 5-1-1 in the last seven after an 0-5-2 start. Snapping their slide at MSG would also complete an undefeated three-game trip. After beating first-place Minnesota in a shootout Saturday, the Islanders topped Winnipeg 3-2 in a tiebreaker Tuesday. "We've got to keep playing like that on the road," said P.A. Parenteau, who scored in regulation and the shootout against the Jets. "We have a lot of young players, and I think we showed a lot of character." One of those players is Matt Moulson. Since Nov. 26, when the Islanders got their first road win of the season against New Jersey, the 28-year-old Moulson leads the NHL in road goals with eight. However, he's managed only two goals in seven games overall since scoring a career-best four in a win at Dallas on Dec. 3. Moulson - the team leader with 15 goals - and John Tavares have a goal and three assists each during the Islanders' four-game skid in Manhattan. Tavares leads the club this season with 26 points, one ahead of Moulson and Parenteau. Evgeni Nabokov stopped all 19 shots he faced in relief of an injured Al Montoya on Tuesday. Limited to just nine games this season by groin and lower-body injuries, Nabokov has started both games against the Rangers, surrendering five goals. The former San Jose Sharks standout is 2-1-0 with a 2.01 goals-against average in his career at MSG. The Rangers, currently tied with Pittsburgh for second in the Atlantic behind Philadelphia, rallied past another division rival Tuesday, beating New Jersey 4-1. They trailed 1-0 late in the second period, but Artem Anisimov tied it and the Rangers scored three goals in the third - two by Marian Gaborik. Gaborik, one assist shy of 300 for his career, recorded his 600th NHL point with his first goal - the game-winner, scored on a rebound. "That's how we score," Gaborik said. "We get a lot of rebound, second-chance goals. I just try to stay in front and be there to lay it in." The Islanders have found no answer for Gaborik at MSG, allowing him five goals and two assists in their four recent losses. Henrik Lundqvist has posted a 1.56 GAA and two shutouts in his last seven home starts against the Islanders. He finished with 30 saves Tuesday, avoiding a third straight loss.
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