Originally posted on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 12/23/11

Much like their first two meetings of the season, the New York Rangers and the New York Islanders put on quite the show tonight at Madison Square Garden. With the Rangers coming out on top, 4-2, they are now undefeated in rivalry week, which will conclude tomorrow night against the Philadelphia Flyers.  Tonight, though, they received contributions from some unlikely sources, leaving the victory with that much sweeter of an after-taste.

After the Rangers had failed to convert on some prime scoring opportunities in the first half of the opening period, Brandon Dubinsky finally opened the scoring at 14:53 when he made a strong move past three Islanders to gain the zone, drove along the boards and fired a wrist shot past Evgeny Nabakov. This was only Dubinsky’s second goal of the season, which created a rare situation in itself. But then you look at the play as a whole and realize that Stu Bickel and Marty Biron were the two assist-getters on the play. Huh?

The Islanders tied the game with a powerplay goal just 18 seconds into the second period. Former Ranger P.A. Parenteau was the beneficiary of a juicy rebound sitting right in the crease so that he could easily bury it into the half-empty cage. That didn’t last, though, as the Rangers would answer back with two tallies of their own before the end of the second.

First we saw Marian Gaborik get his twentieth on the year at 7:52, scoring right off the faceoff on a set play that he and Artem Anisimov had been working on for a while now. Defenseman Michael Del Zotto would then get on the scoreboard at 15:25 with a slap shot goal from the high slot that beat Nabakov suddenly.

Matt Moulson would eventually end up scoring late in the third period for the Islanders, making this a slightly closer game with the score at 3-2 instead of 3-1. However, with well over a minute to go in regulation time, Isles head coach Jack Capuano pulled his goaltender for an extra attack while the puck was about to be obtained by the Rangers in the neutral zone. Sure enough that was the case immediately as Nabby broke for the bench, and John Mitchell sailed in the shot  from center to seal the deal.

Marty Biron played well in goal tonight with a 24-save effort. His rebound control was slightly off, though, and with the Rangers struggling to clear the area around the net, Marty was forced to make stops on a lot of second and third opportunities. He was often up to the task, though, and was the main reason why the Islanders didn’t tie this game on the several opportunities that they had.

The stretching pad-save on Grabner’s one-timer in the first period had to be Biron’s best of the night without much of a doubt.

Aside from Biron, the Rangers’ main stars in this game consisted of Michael Del Zotto, Brandon Dubinsky and Stu Bickel. To be completely honest, I probably would’ve put my money on hell freezing over before I’d bet on these three leading the Blueshirts to victory. But hey, the club will take contributions from anyone, and all three of these players came up clutch tonight. 

Starting with Del Zotto, he scored a huge, game-winning goal in the third period, but also was strong defensively as well. He was a plus-3 overall rating tonight and, dare I say, was reliable in the defensive end with the puck. Del Zotto has shown some serious improvement over the past few weeks, so there is definitely some hope left for this kid.

As for Dubinsky, he is far from out of the woods just yet, but a goal and an assist in tonight’s win should certainly help to boost his confidence level. This is all Dubinsky needed to light his fire, but we’ll see for how long he can keep it burning. Hopefully at least until tomorrow’s match-up with the Flyers.

And lastly, Stu Bickel was tremendous tonight for only his second NHL game. He picked up an assist (his second in two games) and dropped the gloves a total of two times as well. His first bout was against Matt Martin, who knows a thing or two about throwing fists. Bickel held his own there, though, and then would eventually just unload on Tim Wallace later in the game. Good stuff. 

The Rangers will be right back at it on Friday night when they host the Philadelphia Flyers in their last game before the holiday weekend. A win, which would be their fourth straight, would see the Blueshirts surpass the Flyers (currently in 1st place) in the Eastern Conference standings. 

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