As a three-time 40-goal scorer, Marian Gaborik was feeling the weight of drawing a blank in eight straight games.
He showed signs of emerging with three assists in two games going into Thursday night, and his power-play goal in overtime against the Islanders not only broke the drought but was a game-winner.
"I'm sure that's going to help his confidence," coach John Tortorella said after Gaborik, in the high slot during a four-on-three, blasted the puck past Evgeni Nabokov 42 seconds into OT for a 2-1 win.
It was the fourth straight victory for the Rangers (12-8-2), who host the Senators Friday night.
"I had a one-timer first and didn't get good wood on it," Gaborik said of his initial shot on the shift with Michael Grabner in the box. "I exchanged passes with [Rick] Nash, and [Ryan Callahan] was in front and did a really good job of screening."
Said Derek Stepan, "He almost scores on the first one and he gets the puck back and he cranks it up again. Two shots in 20 seconds; with a goal-scorer like him, something good's going to happen."
Stepan assisted on both goals. His slap shot was tipped in by Nash at 14:37 of the third to tie it at 1 and give life to the Rangers, who are 13-3-3 in their last 19 against the Islanders.
Timing is everything. The Rangers, hovering near last in the NHL on the power play, had a single shot on the two previous man advantages. But in the end, it was their fourth straight game with at least one power-play goal, and they are 5-for-15 with the man advantage.
Of course, if not for Nash, the Rangers might have been shut out for the third time, as Nabokov stopped the first 31 shots.
Nash is tied with Gaborik for the team lead in goals, and all of Nash's have come in the third period. Nash, who has 20 points in 18 games, goals in four straight and eight points in that span, seems to make the most of his late chances.
"His third periods are his best periods. That's a good sign for his conditioning," Tortorella said. "He has a mind-set . . . he accepts the responsibility."
Heading into overtime, Henrik Lundqvist said, "It was a good feeling. We worked so hard the entire game to get there. They had a feeling he [Nabokov] was going to shut the door, and it felt like it wasn't our night, really. We had our chances, but we stayed patient, which was key."
One surprise was Roman Hamrlik, 38, claimed off waivers from Washington on Wednesday, who played 15:48. "You can see he has some puck skills," Tortorella said. "He's not in shape, but a guy like him who's played so long, he was a part of it tonight."