Uniondale, NY – It’s never easy playing on Long Island for the New York Ranger. No matter how bad the Islanders are – and this year they are pretty bad – they always seem to give the Blueshirts a run for their money.
Tonight was no different.
The Islanders fought back twice from two goal deficits to tie the game, but thanks to Marion Gaborik’s hat trick, the Rangers were able to win 6-5 to pick up the two points on Long Island.
“I guess that’s just what happens in this building,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said. “Earlier this year, we were on the losing end, so trying to take a positive out of it, we won a game.”
Tortorella really helped the Ranger cause in this game, as he moved up Sean Avery to play with Gaborik and Erik Christensen and No. 16 ignited the line by forcing the forecheck in the game. It allowed the Rangers to push around Rick DiPietro, who stopped only 20 of 26 shots.
“He just creates the play so well and he gets open. When he gets open it’s easy to get him the puck,” Avery said of his new linemate. “The guy is one of the best goal scorers in the world. It’s certainly a fun thing to get to play with him.”
“I thought Sean did a great job in initiating the forecheck, keeping the puck” Tortorella said. “Erik and Gabby kind of followed, not throwing it away, not blind passes, keeping the puck and just trying to grind. Obviously, it was a pretty important line for us tonight.”
More importantly, though, Tortorella also made sure the Rangers had a chance after the Islanders went up 3-2 in the game, by pulling goaltender Martin Biron and replacing him with Henrik Lundqvist, who was not starting against the Islanders for the first time in 16 games, at 12:30 of the second period. The move shook the Rangers up to a point where they immediately tied the game just 51 seconds later when Brandon Prust was set up by Marc Staal for his second of the season.
“It was more of a wakeup call than anything else,” Staal said. “Those goals were not Marty’s fault, but it did allow us to focus.”
“I thought Marty didn’t look dead-on,” Tortorella said. “Even a couple of the saves he made, I didn’t think he looked sharp. Maybe in another game, I would’ve let him fight through it, and I probably will sometime during the year. Our team looked lethargic, and I just wanted to switch. So it’s not all on Marty. It was for just trying to change momentum, also. Whether that stuff works or not, I don’t know.”
Lundqvist was sharp for a bit and ended up stopping seven of nine shots on goal. While Biron was 18 for 21, especially with a second period when the Islanders seemed to come out with a purpose in the first 12 minutes keeping the action in the Rangers zone.
But it was not enough as Gaborik was able to get his first goal in late in the second and added the other two in the third with the game winner coming just 25 seconds after Blake Comeau tied the game at 14:10.
“We’re happy with the two points,” said Avery, who ended the night with three assists. “We have to be tighter. We can play better, for sure.
“It’s always an interesting game, that’s for sure.”