The line of Olli Jokinen, Vinny Prospal and P.A. Parenteau didn't start last night's game together. But the trio ended up as the best on the ice. They scored two goals and compiled five points, each was plus three and Jokinen, in his best game in more than a month, had four shots in the Rangers' 4-3 win.
Jokinen, an unrestricted free agent in June who arrived from Calgary in the Ales Kotalik-Chris Higgins trade, hadn't scored since Feb. 12, an overtime winner in Pittsburgh, and had just six points in his previous 14 games. But Jokinen tied the score at 2 against the Islanders when Kyle Okposo's stick broke on a clearing attempt and he took a shot from the slot that zipped through defenseman Mark Flood and past Dwayne Roloson at 12:57 of the second period.
It was the second of four straight Rangers goals and led to two critical points that kept the Rangers, with 78, four behind current playoff teams Philadelphia, Montreal and Boston, and two points behind the ninth-place Thrashers with six games to play.
"Olli had great speed tonight," said Henrik Lundqvist, who allowed two goals on the first nine shots before settling in. "He really stepped up at a great time. We didn't get any help tonight, but we'll get some down the road."
Actually, the Rangers got unexpected help from Jokinen and Prospal, whose goal snapped an eight-game drought, and another strong game from Parenteau, his second straight since he was called up from Hartford. "[Coach John Tortorella] put us together after a few shifts and we clicked," Parenteau said. "We had a little bit of everything, skating, shooting, physical play. I felt like we played well below the hash marks; we knew their weakness was the back end and we tried to expose that. It's great to play with guys of that caliber."
The trio's play overshadowed the goal that turned out to be the winner by Marian Gaborik and an assist from his former teammate with the Minnesota Wild, Aaron Voros, who backhanded a pass from behind the net that ticked off Mark Streit's skate, where Gaborik gathered it in and shot it past Roloson for his 40th of the season. Gaborik is the 17th Ranger in franchise history to hit or surpass that mark. It was the first point for Voros, who had been a healthy scratch for 15 of 17 games before a start in Toronto Saturday, since he scored in Tampa on Jan. 19.
Notes & quotes: The Rangers are in the hunt for 5-7 Norwegian free-agent forward Mats Zucarrello-Aasen, 22, who has 104 points in 90 games in the Swedish Elite League. GM Glen Sather has spoken with him and his agent . . . The Rangers signed Cameron Talbot, a 22-year-old goalie who played for the University of Huntsville . . . Corey Locke became the first player in franchise history to wear No. 84 . . . Two current Rangers were among the five most overrated NHL players in a players poll conducted by Sports Illustrated. Toronto's Dion Phaneuf led with 21 percent of the vote, Wade Redden six percent and Sean Avery five percent.