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Saturday, October 15, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Islanders 4, Rangers 2

By Katie Strang

At a glance: The Islanders collected their third straight win, 4-2 over the Rangers, fueled by John Tavares' first hat trick of the season in front of a sellout crowd at Nassau Coliseum. Tavares scored a pair of power-play goals against an alarmingly undisciplined Rangers club that has sputtered to 0-1-2 on the season. The 21-year-old center also added an empty-netter with 1:08 to play.

Nabokov in Net:Coach Jack Capuano raised eyebrows when he announced Evgeni Nabokov as the Islanders’ Saturday-night starter instead of former Ranger Al Montoya; in his first three starts of the season, Montoya posted a 2-1-0 average with a 1.35 GAA and .953 save percentage. Nabokov stopped all 14 shots faced in the first period, and after giving up two goals in the second, preserved the Islanders 3-2 lead with a scoreless third. It was his first NHL game in almost 17 months; he last played in San Jose’s 4-2 loss to Chicago on May 23, 2010.

Penalty Parade: After preaching discipline in practice all week, Rangers coach John Tortorella couldn't have been happy. Brandon Dubinsky took a hooking penalty 1:09 into play and the Rangers spent much of the second period down a man, including a cringe-worthy too many men infraction and 43 seconds of 5-on-3 time for the Islanders. John Tavares tallied on the Islanders sixth power-play of the game, backhanding one past Lundqvist at 11:37 of the second and scored another PPG in the third, redirecting a shot from defenseman Mark Streit at 3:30.

Sticking with it: Twice in the second period the Rangers erased one-goal deficits to tie the game. Trailing 1-0, Brad Richards spring sniper Marian Gaborik on a breakaway to knot the teams at 1 at 6:23. With 1:34 remaining, Brandon Prust pulled the Rangers with a wraparound goal that banked off Frans Nielsen’s skate to tie the game at 2.

Three for JT: Tavares had his second consecutive four-point game and his first hat trick of the season. Tavares, who finished with four points (two goals, two assists) in the team's 5-1 win over Tampa Thursday, scored two power-play goals and added an empty-netter with 1:08 in regulation. He also earned an assist on Matt Moulson's wrist shot that beat Henrik Lundqvist at 12:04 of the first.

Comeau out: In the second surprising move of the day, Capuano removed 25-year-old winger Blake Comeau from the lineup and replaced him with enforcer Trevor Gillies. Comeau, who had a career-high 24-goal, 46-point season last year, was a healthy scratch. Although held scoreless in the team’s first three games, Comeau has career totals of 11 goals and 7 assists in 19 games against the Rangers.

What’s Next: Islanders at Lightning, Thursday October 20 at 7:30 p.m.; Rangers at Canucks, Tuesday October 18 at 10 p.m.