Rangers, With 3 New Players, Beat Islanders 4-2
Prior to the trade deadline, the Rangers shook up their roster with several moves. Including the return of Sean Avery to the lineup, the Rangers were skating with three new players. Forward Nik Antropov was acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs and defenseman Derek Morris was acquired from the Phoenix Coyotes. All of the three new players factored into the game for the club, and the Rangers prevailed over the Islanders 4-2.
The atmosphere was rowdy in Long Island, especially towards Avery, and both teams started the game with a fast pace and high energy. Within the first five minutes the Islanders had three solid chances to score. Henrik Lundqvist came up with 2 saves, and the goal post helped him on the third. Lundqvist would finish the game with 28 saves, while earning his 28th win of the season.
The Islanders came away empty handed from their fast start, and soon the Rangers would take a 1-0 lead on a goal by Nikolai Zherdev, his 18th of the season. Zherdev picked up a loose puck in the corner, skated in and launched a quick wrist shot past Islanders net minder Yann Denis.
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Avery was a focus of attention both for the Islanders players and for the rowdy fans. While he was loudly booed and chanted against when he was on the ice, he was also the recipient of a handful of very hard checks throughout the game. But Avery was on his (relatively) best behavior, and managed to draw a penalty in one instance rather than retaliate.
About six minutes into the second period, Blake Comeau tied the score at 1-1, putting in a rebound through Lundqvist's five hole. Midway through the period, the Rangers would regain the lead on a Chris Drury power play goal, his 17th notch of the season. Drury launched a one timer from the center of the blue line that got past Denis in part thanks to a Brandon Dubinsky screen.
Just one minute into the third period, the Rangers would score once again. On a 2 on 1 rush, Zherdev found Scott Gomez, who put home his 14th of the year. The Islanders responded three minutes later when Jack Hillen scored the first goal of his NHL career on a give and go from Comeau. But the Rangers power play would strike once again, this time when Markus Naslund was able to get a shot past Denis for his 21st of the year.
It was the final goal of the game, and the Rangers would skate off the ice with a 4-2 win. It was the first time the Rangers won back to back games for over a month, dating back to the end of January.
While the Islanders may not be the perfect bench mark for a team hoping to make a playoff push, the Rangers received a lot of positive signs. The power play, one of the worst in the league all season, scored twice. Drury and Gomez, their two big acquisitions two seasons ago, both of whom have been struggling this year, were each able to get a goal. New Rangers player Antropov added an assist to Drury's goal and Sean Avery played with controlled intensity as Lundqvist put forth another great night in net.
Even if for only a night, things were looking up for the Broadway Blueshirts. Their reward is a game against Eastern Conference leading Boston on Sunday.
By: Jake Emen
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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