In a game of trading chances, the game-changer, said Rangers coach John Tortorella, came from Bryan McCabe.
Ryan Callahan had scored at 11:31 of the second period to restore the lead for the Rangers, who had watched a two-goal cushion disappear courtesy of goals from Islanders forwards Matt Moulson and P.A. Parenteau in the first 3:30 of the period.
With the Rangers now leading 3-2 and on a power play, Michael Grabner, the swift winger who leads all NHL rookies in goals with 28 was speeding through center ice, pursued by
McCabe, the former Islanders draft pick in 1993, now in his 15th season. The veteran caught up with Grabner, dislodged the puck, and sent a pass the other way to Marian Gaborik, who waited for an opening and whistled a wrister past the stick of Al Montoya for a 4-2 edge
McCabe then scored his first goal in eight games as a Ranger after being acquired from Florida at the trade deadline about four minutes later on a 5 on 3, the Rangers third power play goal in as many opportunities. "I thought Caber really stood out tonight," said Tortorella, "obviously made some good passes, scored a big goal."
So, for the fourth time in five meetings this season, the Rangers beat their suburban neighbors in a 6-3 game in which the Blueshirts played as if they were in the playoff hunt. The Islanders are not, and it showed.T
The Rangers are two points ahead of Buffalo in seventh place and are four points up on Carolina, in ninth.
Brandon Prust scored shorthanded and Erik Christensen added a power play goal as the Rangers---with a season-high 21 first-period shots---took a 2-0 lead and dominated the second period en route to a convincing victory at Madison Square Garden.
“We were taking it to them and we kinda got a little cocky there, trying to be too cute,” said Prust, who is tied for the league lead in shorthanded goals with five. “It was good to see us bounce back, but we can’t do that in these last games, we have to make sure we play a full 60 (minutes). We played a full 55 today.”
That turned out to be enough. With the win, the Rangers (37-30-4, 78) remained in a playoff spot in the East with 11 games to play. The young Islanders (27-33-11) have just 65 points and will miss the post-season again.
"We won a big game," said Tortorella. "It's a hard game to play, that team is just feeling good about itself, there's really not a lot of pressure on them. We found a way to win, but we have to clean up some of our defense and play more consistently."
Henrik Lundqvist, who made 25 saves and started his 15th straight game, helped end two Islanders streaks. They had played seven consecutive one-goal games on the road and recorded at least one point in each of their last seven games (4-0-3).
“We knew there was going to be momentum swings throughout the game,” said Callahan, who scored his 21st of the season to snap the 2-2 tie, when Anisimov slid the puck through the crease behind goalie Montoya as defenseman Bruno Gervais lost track of the right wing.
Nathan Lawson replaced Montoya to start the third period and Gaborik scored his second of the game and 20th of the year at 12:43. He is 6-3-9 against the Islanders this year. “We have to start stringing some wins together at home,” said Callahan (the Rangers are 16-16-3), especially if we’re going into the playoffs, home ice is a big spot.”
After a 5-on-5 scrum with 2:10 left in the game, the home crowd chanted “Sea-son’s ov-er.” Not quite. The final game of the season series is March 31 in Uniondale.