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Monday, December 26, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Rangers 3, Islanders 0

By Katie Strang

What it means: Speedy rookie Carl Hagelin tallied twice and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist posted his third shutout of the season as the Rangers rattled off their fifth straight win and reclaimed first place in the Eastern Conference. With their 3-0 win over the Islanders on Monday at MSG, the Blueshirts topped their New York rivals for the second time in four days. After handing the Islanders their third straight loss, the Rangers hold a 3-1 edge on the season series.

Sweet setup: Hagelin banked a shot off Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead in the second, but it was Michael Del Zotto who did most of the work. The 21-year-old defenseman made a beautiful move around Islanders center Frans Nielsen to set up Hagelin’s fifth of the season. Del Zotto picked up another helper on Hagelin's third-period marker, tying him with Derek Stepan for the team lead with 17 assists. Del Zotto also leads Rangers defensemen in scoring.

Strong second for Hank: The Islanders didn't record their first shot on goal in the second period until 10:17 into the frame, but Lundqvist was terrific in stopping a barrage of shots during the latter half of the period. Lundqvist received help in front from teammates Brian Boyle and defenseman Anton Stralman, whose last shift of the period culminated with three blocked shots between the two limping players.

Goal streak for Gaborik: With his empty-netter late in the third period, Marian Gaborik extended his goal streak to five games. The 29-year-old sniper, who matched his goals total from last season, leads the league with 22 in 34 games and seven during the team's current five-game winning streak.

Islanders instigating: Fourth-line bruiser Micheal Haley was slapped with 17 penalty minutes after initiating a fight against Rangers defenseman Stu Bickel. Haley received two minutes for instigating, five for fighting and a ten-minute misconduct at 2:20 in the first. The feisty winger did not return to the game as a result of a hand injury suffered in the scrap.

Knocking knees: The Islanders jumped to John Tavares' defense immediately once the 21-year-old center was taken out in an open-ice collision with Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi. Girardi went off for tripping, while Rangers captain Ryan Callahan and Tavares’ linemate PA Parenteau both received roughing minors. Tavares returned for his next shift on the Islanders’ first power-play unit.

Still scratched: Rangers’ extra forwards Sean Avery and Erik Christensen were scratched for their eighth and fourth straight game, respectively. Rangers defenseman Jeff Woywitka sat out his fourth consecutive with a foot injury.

Up next: Rangers at Capitals, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.