Not in more than 30 years have the Rangers and Islanders done what they did Tuesday night: face each other while both were among the top 10 NHL teams in points percentage (minimum 40 games played). That last time was Feb. 18, 1984, when Brent Sutter of the Islanders scored with six seconds left for a 4-3 win that brought the two sides even atop the Patrick Division.
"They're a good team. We know that," Al Arbour said that night, having secured his 501st coaching victory. "But we know there's a lot of time left and so do they."
Don Maloney had given Herb Brooks' Rangers a 3-2 lead in the third period -- a precursor to his famous goal, which sent the climactic Game 5 of the Rangers-Islanders playoff series into overtime.
The teams had met 178 times in the regular season between Feb. 18, 1984 and Tuesday night.
Vigneault feels ill
As much as the Rangers enjoyed the week off for the All-Star break, they did get a stark reminder that January also is flu season.
Alain Vigneault missed the morning skate Tuesday because he felt ill, but was behind the bench for the game. Associate coach Scott Arniel spoke to the media in the morning and said several players were "under the weather." Chris Kreider did not practice Monday because of illness, but he played Tuesday night.
The only regular who wasn't in the Rangers lineup was Lee Stempniak, who was the team's lone healthy scratch.
The Rangers visit the Coliseum twice more, Feb. 16 and March 10. Before last night, they had not played in Uniondale since Oct. 29, 2013. The previous six games between the rivals were played away from the Coliseum -- five at Madison Square Garden and an Isles home game at Yankee Stadium a year ago.