New York Rangers: New York Islanders

Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers unravel on wrong side of rout vs. Islanders at MSG

October, 14, 2014
Oct 14
11:17
PM ET


NEW YORK -- Forget the numbers.

The numbers are bad for the New York Rangers right now, but you really don't need numbers. We'll give them to you later, but you really don't need them.

All you need to do is watch. All you needed to see was a few minutes of the second period on Sunday night, or a few minutes of the third period of Tuesday night's 6-3 loss to the New York Islanders.

Watch, and wonder. Watch the Rangers turn one bad goal into three. Watch a team that played in the Stanley Cup Finals in June, and wonder how they've shown up in October as a team that sees a game slipping away and can't find any way to stop it.

The Rangers are only four games into this season. Every team will have bad losses. That doesn't make it any less stunning to watch this team play this poorly, on home ice, in two games that should have been uplifting rather than shots to the gut.

"Right now if you try to boil it down, it's about 10 minutes of the last two games that somehow we became unraveled on the ice," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "I'm sure we can fix that."

That doesn't sound bad, until you remember that the Rangers were saying after Sunday's 6-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs that they could fix their problems. And until you remember that they were saying confidently Tuesday morning that they had figured a few things out.

[+] EnlargeIslanders
AP Photo/John MinchilloThe Islanders put the Rangers away with four goals during the third period in a 6-3 win at the Garden.
They watched video. They changed the lineup. They even played two pretty strong periods Tuesday, especially a second period where they had a 21-8 shots advantage. They twice took the lead and would have been comfortably ahead if not for big saves by Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak.

All it took was two mistakes from Michael Kostka to send the Rangers back into a terrible spiral. They were bad mistakes, the type of mistakes you almost never see an NHL player make, but two mistakes shouldn't have thrown a supposedly confident team into turmoil.

Yet they did.

Defenseman Dan Girardi said the Rangers aren't mentally focused enough. He said they seem to get to nervous and talked about a "nightmarish snowball effect."

You'd expect to hear talk like that from the Islanders, a team that missed the playoffs last season. But the Islanders, boosted by what appear to be some good additions, have won their first three games of this season.

The Rangers have lost three straight after winning on opening night. They gave up five goals on Saturday night in Columbus, then six in each of their first two home games.

That's 17 goals allowed in the last three games.

The Rangers have scored 11 goals in four games overall, and six of those have come from one player.

Yes, Rick Nash scored again Tuesday, becoming the first Rangers player ever with goals in each of the first four games of the season. He leads the NHL with his six goals. And yet when he answered questions Tuesday night, his goal scoring wasn't even discussed.

[+] EnlargeHenrik Lundqvist
AP Photo/John MinchilloHenrik Lundqvist let the Islanders in for four goals in the third period of Tuesday's loss against the Isles.
"We're not helping our goaltender out enough," Nash said. "They're getting too many chances from the middle.

"We're aware of how serious it is. We have to correct our game and get a win on Thursday."

Goalie Henrik Lundqvist didn't absolve himself of the blame.

"We just need to be on the same page here," Lundqvist said. "But it's also my job to be there and take care of the mistakes we make. There's going to be some mistakes. It's just when we lose our structure a little bit, I tend to do a little too much sometimes."

Lundqvist has had other games like this, but never two in a row. In 667 NHL regular-season and playoff games before this week, he had never had back-to-back games allowing five goals.

Now he's had two in a row allowing six.

Yes, the numbers really do look bad. But the worst part for the Rangers is that your eyes tell you it's even worse.

"We're lucky it's only four games in," Girardi said. "At the same time, we're digging ourselves a hole."

They're digging it fast. And then falling in it.

Rapid Reaction: Islanders 6, Rangers 3

October, 14, 2014
Oct 14
9:44
PM ET
NEW YORK -- There's plenty to fix, and the New York Rangers proved Tuesday night they're not close to getting it done.

Meanwhile, the New York Islanders showed that maybe this season really can be better.

The Islanders scored three times in the first 5:20 of the third period, stunning the Rangers and eventually handing them their third consecutive ugly defeat. Henrik Lundqvist allowed six goals for the second straight game, as the Islanders beat the Rangers 6-3.

The Islanders, who missed the playoffs last season, have won their first three games. The Rangers, who went to the Stanley Cup finals, have lost three straight since beating the St. Louis Blues on opening night.

And it's not just three straight losses for the Rangers. It's three straight losses in which they've allowed five, six and six goals. It's a home opener in which they allowed the Toronto Maple Leafs to score five times in the second period alone, followed by a rivalry game in which they badly outshot the Islanders but still managed to be badly beaten (and heard loud "Let's go Islanders!" chants at Madison Square Garden).

There's still plenty to fix.

Henrik and the Isles: The Islanders figured to be the best opponent for Lundqvist to bounce back against. He had won eight of his past nine games against them, with a 1.42 GAA in the nine games.

Only Martin Brodeur (10) and Jose Theodore (6) have more career shutouts against the Islanders than Lundqvist's five.

Instead, Lundqvist has had back-to-back games allowing six goals. He had allowed six or more just 10 times in his career before this week.


Nash again: Rick Nash didn't wait long to keep his goal-scoring streak going. His backhand beat Islander goalie Jaroslav Halak at 6:22 of the first period, giving Nash the early-season NHL lead with five goals in four games.

Nash also scored the Rangers' final goal, giving him six for the season. He now has six of the 11 goals the Rangers have scored this season.

Nash is the first player in Rangers history to score a goal in each of the first four games of a season. The goal-scoring streak isn't the longest of Nash's career. He had five-game streaks each of the past two seasons, and a six-game streak in 2005-06 with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Kostka's costly mistakes: Defenseman Michael Kostka played his first game as a Ranger, but it didn't go well. Two terrible Kostka giveaways led directly to Islander goals, turning a 2-1 Ranger lead into a 3-2 deficit.

Kostka lost the puck behind his own net late in the second period, and Nikolai Kulemin passed to a wide-open John Tavares right in front of Henrik Lundqvist for the tying goal.

Kostka didn't play for the rest of the second period but returned in the third period and immediately cost the Rangers again. This time his attempt at a clearing pass in front of the net went directly to Kyle Okposo, who sent the puck past Lundqvist to put the Islanders ahead.

Malone moves in: Ryan Malone also played his first game with the Rangers, and made his presence felt in front of the net on the Rangers' first power-play unit. While it didn't result in any immediate goals, the Rangers did have quite a few chances.

Malone also got the Rangers to the power play in the second period, when Thomas Hickey hooked him in front of the net to prevent big-time scoring chance.

Second effort: The Rangers were flying for most of the second period, outshooting the Islanders 21-8. But in part because of outstanding work by Halak, the Rangers scored just once in the period. Derick Brassard gave them a 2-1 lead at 3:50, but the Islanders' John Tavares tied it at 2-2 at 15:03.

Boychuk power: The Islanders' decision to trade for Johnny Boychuk just before the season opened continues to pay off. Boychuk's power-play goal tied the game at 10:31 of the first period. The goal gave Boychuk six points in his first three games with the Islanders, and five of those points came on the power play. The Islanders were 4-for-8 on the power play in their first two games against the Carolina Hurricanes.

What's next:
The Rangers host the Hurricanes Thursday at the Garden, in the third of four straight home games. The Islanders host the San Jose Sharks Thursday night at the Coliseum.

NY/NJ's top trade deadline storylines

March, 3, 2014
Mar 3
1:24
PM ET
With Wednesday’s 3 p.m. cutoff looming and some surprising names popping up on the market, this could be one of the most intriguing trade deadlines in recent memory. Only a handful of teams are truly out of the playoff hunt, which means there are a bevy of GMs looking to bolster their squads in preparation for a push. Here are the top storylines to monitor over the next few days about your favorite local teams:

1. Will the New York Rangers trade Callahan?

This saga will finally come to a close by Wednesday afternoon, when GM Glen Sather must decide whether or not to move his heart-and-soul captain, Ryan Callahan. Though there has been recent movement toward a contract extension for the pending unrestricted free agent, the two sides still have a gap to bridge on the annual average value. Though Callahan’s camp recently came off its initial request of a seven-year deal worth upwards of $7 million per year, neither side seems particularly encouraged about the progress up to this point. If Sather chooses to part ways with the 28-year-old winger, a gritty, homegrown talent, there should be plenty of interest in Callahan’s services. Callahan would be one of the premier rental players on the market, joining the likes of Thomas Vanek and Matt Moulson as wingers that could provide a boost to a team in the playoff hunt. Though Callahan’s production does not compare to the other two players, the hard-working forward blocks shots, kills penalties and brings a relentless, punishing style of hockey on every shift.

2. What will New York Islanders get in return for Vanek and MacDonald?

With star player John Tavares done for the year with a season-ending knee injury suffered during the Olympics and his team in an a tailspin, Islanders general manager Garth Snow is under an enormous amount of pressure heading into this year’s trade deadline, more so than at any other time during his tenure as GM. Why? Snow holds two high-profile trade targets, one of which is among the most coveted players on the market: sniper Thomas Vanek. Snow will be seeking a hefty return for the two-time 40-goal scorer and it’s easy to see why. Early in the season, Snow landed Vanek in a deal with Buffalo that sent packing Matt Moulson and two high picks, a conditional first-round pick in 2014 and a second-round pick in 2015. Now that the Islanders have plummeted to 26th place, that first-rounder has become a painful one to give up. Now, Snow can exercise his right to retain the pick and surrender one in 2015 instead if the Islanders finish in the bottom 10, but doing so runs the risk of parting with a coveted first-round pick in Connor McDavid’s draft class. That makes it even more imperative for Snow to recoup a first-rounder in a deal for Vanek, but he’ll be looking for more than that. Snow will likely be asking for a prospect and/or roster player in the deal as well. As for Andrew MacDonald? The 27-year-old defenseman has had a rough season, but he logs top-pair minutes for the Islanders and has an extremely cost-effective cap hit ($550,000) for any team looking to add depth to its blue line without breaking the bank. You’d expect the going rate for MacDonald to be a second-round pick, plus possibly a mid-grade prospect, but don’t be surprised if Snow shoots for the moon and asks for a first-rounder here as well.

3. Will the New Jersey Devils deal Brodeur?

Forty-one-year-old netminder Martin Brodeur, who has abdicated his starting position to Cory Schneider, made his first appearance in over a month this past weekend -- a 6-2 win over the Islanders on Saturday. You can’t blame the future Hall of Famer for wanting to explore an opportunity where he’d get the chance to play more than he is in New Jersey, and ultimately, Brodeur will have to make that decision. Brodeur is in the driver’s seat with a no-trade clause, meaning he’d probably have to approach GM Lou Lamoriello to say he’d like the chance to play elsewhere. If he does make that determination, there will be interest with Minnesota believed to be a team sniffing around for some help in net. Though Brodeur’s play has diminished -- he has a save percentage of only .900 this season -- the all-time wins leader has the playoff experience and pedigree that could provide a good option between the pipes for a team looking to shore up the position.

Gold for Nash, Tavares; silver for Lundqvist

February, 23, 2014
Feb 23
11:28
AM ET


New York Rangers forward Rick Nash and injured New York Islanders captain John Tavares will come home from Sochi with Olympic gold following Team Canada's 3-0 win over Sweden Sunday.

Meanwhile, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and forward Carl Hagelin will return to New York with a silver medal for their efforts. Lundqvist, who was stellar in leading an injury-ravaged Team Sweden to the championship game, was named to the all-tournament team.

After a scare from Latvia in the quarterfinal round, the game in which Tavares sustained a season-ending knee injury, Canada steamrolled it's competition with a decisive pair of wins to close out the 2014 Games.

Canada blanked the Americans 1-0 on Friday, dominating the U.S. team from start to finish with a brilliant defensive performance -- the U.S. team was pushed off the podium after suffering a 5-0 shutout loss to Finland in the Bronze medal game on Saturday. Canadian netminder Carey Price pitched another shutout Sunday for the second of back-to-back gold medals.

Nash was a member of the gold-medal-winning squad in Vancouver back in 2010, but this was the first Olympic experience for Tavares, whose tournament was unfortunately cut short.

That didn't stop the 23-year-old center from joining his teammates on the ice in celebration Sunday, however. Tavares appeared, one crutch in tow, to accept his medal.

• NHL spokesperson Frank Brown confirmed Newsday's report that the IIHF and IOC will reimburse the Islanders to some degree for the injury sustained to Tavares, per the terms of their insurance agreement with the NHL for Olympic participation.

Five things to watch in Sochi

February, 8, 2014
Feb 8
3:15
PM ET
Just because the NHL is taking a break does not mean we won’t have hockey! There will be plenty of action in the next few weeks with the game’s top players heading over to Sochi, Russia to compete for their respective teams in the 2014 Olympic Games. Here are some storylines to watch for the New York-local players once the puck drops overseas:

Ryan Callahan1. Ryan Callahan’s health: With the Olympic roster freeze now in effect, the 28-year-old captain’s future with the Rangers remains unresolved as he packs up for Sochi. Locked in a contract stalemate with the team, the pending unrestricted free agent was the subject of widespread trade speculation over the last week. Though it was assumed by some that the Rangers might try to deal the gritty winger before the Olympics, hedging against a potential injury, Callahan stayed put. GM Glen Sather has to hope for the best while the rugged forward competes for the U.S. in his second Olympic appearance. Whether Sather intends to trade Callahan or retain him for the playoff push, he needs his player healthy upon return.

John Tavares2. John Tavares’ rising star: So his Islanders are pretty much cooked in terms of their playoff hopes, but the 2013 Hart Trophy finalist will still have the international stage to showcase what an elite player he has become. One of the league’s most captivating offensive talents, Tavares will be surrounded by a team of superstars so deep down the middle (i.e. Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews) that Tavares may move to the wing. That shouldn’t be a problem for Tavares, who has played wing in international competitions before. Wherever he plays, he’ll be a key player in helping Team Canada defend its gold medal.

3. Leading the Swedes: With the Swedish team suffering a number of costly losses up front (Henrik Sedin, Johan Franzen), Henrik Lundqvist will shoulder even more responsibility in backstopping his team towards medal contention. That’s a welcome challenge for Lundqvist, who led Team Sweden to a gold medal in 2006 as a 23-year-old. Good news for the Swedes is Lundqvist is playing some of his best hockey of the year heading into the tournament. After a poor start to the season, Lundqvist turned the corner near the holiday break and has been resolute in goal ever since. Most recently he is 4-0-0 with a 1.50 goals against average and .950 save percentage in his last four games. He has also held opponents to two goals or less in 10 of the last 11 games.

Lubomir Visnovsky4. To go or no: Though the Islanders have reportedly told veteran defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky he cannot play for the Slovakian national team because of injury concerns, they cannot technically prohibit him from participating. Though Visnovsky missed over three months this season with a concussion, he has since returned and been medically cleared to play in NHL games for the Islanders. As such, he can defy the Islanders’ wishes and compete for his country if he wants. Maybe Visnovsky does not wish to participate in the Games after missing so much time this season with a severe head injury. Either way, the decision is ultimately up to him.

Jaromir Jagr5. Still got it: Though New Jersey’s goal-starved 2013-14 campaign has largely been a source of frustration for Devils fans everywhere, it’s been hard not to delight in the pure wizardry of 41-year-old Jaromir Jagr, whose offense has not gone dormant. The gray-bearded veteran leads the Devils in scoring with 17 goals and 48 points in 57 games for New Jersey this season. Expect him to be a force to be reckoned with on the Czech team, joined by New Jersey teammates Patrik Elias and Marek Zidlicky and fellow 40-something marvel Petr Nedved.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 4, Isles 1

January, 31, 2014
Jan 31
9:47
PM ET
NEW YORK -- After completing a Stadium Series sweep on Wednesday, the Rangers continued to roll with their second straight victory against the Islanders, downing their bitter division rivals 4-1 Friday at Madison Square Garden.

Derick Brassard snapped a 1-1 tie with 7:46 to go, capitalizing on a beautiful cross-ice feed from defenseman Marc Staal. Brad Richards added an insurance goal minutes later to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead. Ryan McDonagh added an empty-netter with one second in regulation.

The Blueshirts have won six of their past eight games and hope to maintain that momentum in the remaining three games before the Olympic break.

Staal continues to be a force for the Rangers, not just with his defensive abilities but with his offensive contributions as of late. The 27-year-old defenseman finished the night with two assists just hours after coach Alain Vigneault heaped praise upon him for his recent play.

"I think Marc is playing his best hockey since I’ve been here," Vigneault said in his pregame briefing.

All tied up: After an abundance of Grade-A looks on the Islanders' second-period power-play, Kyle Okposo tied the game at 14:28 just moments after McDonagh's hooking penalty expired. Okposo notched his 24th goal of the season, beating Henrik Lundqvist from the doorstep to knot the score at one. Lundqvist had 38 saves on the night.

Chipping in: The Rangers' fourth line has been an effective one as of late. Two days after rugged winger Daniel Carcillo scored the winner in the team’s 2-1 win against the Islanders in the Stadium Series match Wednesday night, Brian Boyle got the Rangers on the board with his fourth of the season just 3:29 into the first period.

Trade talks: Things just got real. The trade talk surrounding captain Ryan Callahan has escalated, as a source confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com that the Rangers have granted permission to multiple teams to speak with Callahan’s agent. The Rangers have yet to re-sign the gritty 28-year-old winger, who is reportedly seeking a seven-year deal worth $6 million annually. No deal is imminent, and there is a healthy dose of skepticism amongst many around the league that the Rangers will actually move him. Obviously, no deal was imminent as of Friday night, given that Callahan was in the lineup.

W2W4: Rangers vs. Isles

January, 31, 2014
Jan 31
10:16
AM ET
At a glance: You again? Yes, that’s right the New York Rangers and New York Islanders meet for the third time in 12 days, having last played in Wednesday night’s outdoor Stadium Series game in the Bronx. While the Blueshirts are rolling along towards the Olympic break with five wins in the last seven games, the Islanders are desperate to snap a four-game losing streak that is putting their playoff chances in peril.

Keeping hope alive: if the Islanders want to prevent general manager Garth Snow from going into sell mode at the trade deadline March 5, they’ll probably have to win their final five games before the Olympic break. As it currently stands, the Islanders sit eight points back from the last wild card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Though they went on a run to secure their first playoff appearance in six years last spring during a lockout-shortened 2013 season, their chances are looking pretty grim right now.

Adjustment period: The Blueshirts played their last pair of games outside in sub-freezing temperatures. Although they recorded four points with wins in each, the Rangers are likely to feel a bit relieved to play under normal conditions the rest of the way. Players can ditch the extra layers and ear-warmers. They'll worry a little less about the ice conditions and a bouncing puck.

Nice stretch for Nash: Rick Nash is producing at an impressive clip as he prepares to compete for Team Canada in the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The star winger, who won gold in Vancouver in 2010, has tallied 11 goals in the past 12 games. He leads the Rangers with 18 on the season. He’ll join forces in Sochi with Islanders’ superstar center John Tavares, who is second in the NHL in scoring (only behind Sidney Corsby) with 64 points.

Stingy on D: The Rangers have allowed two goals or fewer in nine of their last 11 games and were particularly stingy on the penalty kill against a dangerous Islanders power-play that boasts the likes of Tavares, Thomas Vanek and Kyle Okposo. The Rangers held the Isles without a power-play goal on four man-up opportunities.

Down and out: The Islanders will be without one of their top defensemen Travis Hamonic, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday with what is believed to be a concussion.

Rangers set for another game vs. rival Isles

January, 30, 2014
Jan 30
7:01
PM ET
GREENBURGH, N,Y. -- There will be no secrets between the New York Rangers and New York Islanders on Friday night at Madison Square Garden, the third meeting between the two bitter division rivals in a 12-day span.

Granted, the conditions will be different from Wednesday's Stadium Series game in the Bronx -- a 2-1 Rangers win outdoors in sub-freezing temperatures -- but this will be the same Islanders team.

[+] EnlargeRangers/Islanders
Elsa/Getty ImagesThe Rangers and Islanders are set to face off for the third time in a 12-day span.
Only now, the Isles are reeling after four straight losses, with the grim possibility of a very long off-season looking more likely by the day. Squandering an opportunity to make up some critical ground in the standings Wednesday, the Islanders trail the Rangers by 11 points in the Metropolitan Division standings, seven points out of the last Wildcard playoff spot.

"They expect more out of themselves than what they did the last five or six years," goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said of an improved Islanders squad. "They have a good team and they know that. They're fighting for a playoff spot so the desperation might be a little bit higher now. That combination along with their skill makes them a dangerous team."

Winners in five of their last seven games, the Rangers are making a nice push toward the Olympic break, banking points before the two-week-plus layoff. They are bracing for a desperate Islanders team that is trying to prove that last spring's playoff appearance is not an anomaly.

The explosive first line of Thomas Vanek, John Tavares and Kyle Okposo will again be a dangerous threat.

"You understand what their strengths are," defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "Their top line and their creativity, their other three lines are hard fore-checking lines."

Though his team had success in containing the Isles' top trio Wednesday night -- rookie Brock Nelson was the team's lone goal-scorer -- coach Alain Vigneault said the line is difficult to game-plan against, purely on stamina alone.

"What is challenging about their first line is, I mean, those guys can stay on the ice from a minute, to a minute-ten, which is way above the norm," Vigneault said. "You have to have, almost, two pairs on defense ready and two lines ready to go up against that group."

And though the Rangers have done a good job picking up points to this point, there is still a logjam of teams in the Eastern Conference fighting to remain in the playoff picture.

"There's nothing to save," Lundqvist said. "We have to go all in down the stretch here."

NHL heading to Citi Field?

January, 30, 2014
Jan 30
3:19
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Could an outdoor NHL game come to Citi Field?

A senior Mets source told ESPNNewYork.com that the team has had discussions with the league about the possibility in the future.

"We're always talking with various entities about bringing big events to Citi Field," the source said. "We did have discussions with the NHL and are always open to revisiting them down the road."

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly confirmed these discussions as well.

"Yes, we have had a number of discussions in the past about the possibility of staging an outdoor game at CitiField," Daly told ESPNNewYork.com via email. "Not in a position to predict if or when that might happen."

With the success of the two Stadium Series games at Yankee Stadium recently, it's hard to imagine the Mets wouldn't want to bring an event of that magnitude to the Queens-based ballpark.

"We loved having the event and would welcome it back," Yankees team president Randy Levine said.

Levine added that the decision is completely up to the NHL.

Sunday's matinee between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils and Wednesday night's game between the Rangers and New York Islanders drew a combined 100,132 fans, despite the chilly temperatures.

Though an event again in New York next winter is unlikely -- reports have suggested there will be four outdoor games with San Jose, Phoenix, Colorado, Boston, Minnesota, Columbus and Toronto all teams that appear to have interest in hosting -- it could be an intriguing possibility in the future.

Whether it's a legitimate possibility remains to be seen, but a league source said the lines of communication will remain open.

ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand contributed to this report.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 2, Islanders 1

January, 29, 2014
Jan 29
10:23
PM ET
NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers won Sunday's Stadium Series game with their offense.

Their defense did the job in securing Wednesday's win over the New York Islanders.

The Rangers squeaked out a 2-1 win over the Islanders in the second Stadium Series game on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Like Sunday, the Rangers fell behind but scored the final goals to close the game. Daniel Carcillo provided the game-winner in the third in front of a crowd of 50,027.

Unlikely hero: With all the star players in this game, it was an unlikely name that provided the difference-maker. With the Rangers on a four-on-two rush, Carcillo cashed in a rebound to give the Rangers the lead for good 4:36 into the third period. Carcillo, whom the Rangers acquired for his toughness, not his goal scoring, tallied just his third goal of the season.

Where's Tavares? After torching the Rangers for three points in the teams' previous meeting on Jan. 21, Islanders center John Tavares was held pointless in this game. Tavares, who entered the team second in the NHL in points, has been held without a point in back-to-back games for the first time since Dec. 20-21. The Islanders need him to perform to win games.

Colder: The game-time temperature was 22 degrees, a drop from the 24.9 degrees at game time for Sunday's Stadium Series clash between the Rangers and the New Jersey Devils.

Undefeated: The Rangers are now 3-0-0 in outdoors games. They beat the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2012 Winter Classic, and bested the Devils and Islanders in the Stadium Series. The Rangers, who were the road team in both games, improved the road teams' record in outdoor games to 9-1-1.

No momentum: The Islanders scored the first goal of the game when Brock Nelson beat Henrik Lundqvist with just 1:27 left in the second period, but the Islanders squandered that lead in 40 seconds. In a scrum near the goal, Derick Brassard's pass bounced off Benoit Pouliot's chest, and he hammered it home to tie the game with 47 seconds remaining in the period.

Streaking wrong way: Since beating the Rangers on Jan. 21, the Islanders have lost four straight. With just 50 points, the Islanders can't afford losing streaks like these if they want to make up ground in the playoffs race.

Up next: These teams will meet again Friday at Madison Square for the fifth and final time this season. They've split the meetings thus far.

W2W4: Rangers, Isles take it outside

January, 29, 2014
Jan 29
2:11
PM ET

The New York Rangers and New York Islanders meet Wednesday night in the second of the two Stadium Series games at Yankee Stadium. Here are some things to watch for in this matchup, which is technically a home game for the Islanders:

THE ICE: Devils goalie Martin Brodeur called the ice Sunday "the worst" he's ever played on. Even Rangers coach Alain Vigneault admitted he was surprised by the poor quality. Will it be any better on Wednesday? It should help that the teams won't have to worry about sun glare.

COLD, COLD, COLD: It's going to be quite chilly at Yankee Stadium, with temperatures expected to dip into the teens. Yes, hockey players are used to playing in the cold, but this game is a different animal. Could that affect the players' performance? Brodeur said Sunday the cold weather made it hard for him to close his glove.

MOMENTUM: According to the Rangers, they tied or set eight individual and team records for an outdoor game in Sunday's win over the Devils, including most goals scored and most players on a team with a point. Will they be able to keep that up against the Islanders? The Rangers scored the final six goals of Sunday's game. The Rangers are also now 2-0 in outdoor games.

NASHTY: Rick Nash will be trying to light up the lamp for the sixth straight game, which would be a career high and give him 12 goals in 12 games. Nash (18 goals) is finally playing like the All-Star-caliber player the Rangers thought they traded for last year.

TAVARES: Islanders stud John Tavares makes his debut in an outdoor game, and he will be worth watching. Tavares is perhaps the best NHL player in the area, with 23 goals and 41 assists on the season, giving him the second-most points in the NHL. The Rangers had a hard time corralling him the last two times the teams met.

Five things to watch for in Stadium Series

January, 24, 2014
Jan 24
1:30
PM ET
Yankee StadiumJared Silber/NHLI/Getty ImagesThe Boys of Winter will hit the ice in the Bronx starting Sunday.
The NHL takes over Yankee Stadium for the next few days as the ballpark in the Bronx will host Stadium Series matchups Sunday, between the Rangers and the Devils, and Wednesday, between the Rangers and Islanders.

Here are five things to watch for in the Stadium Series:

1. THE WEATHER: Just like the Super Bowl, the weather will be something to keep an eye on for both games. NHL senior manager of facility operations Mike Craig said ideal conditions would be cloudy with cooler temperatures and no wind. If it snows or rains, that obviously affects the ice and therefore the playing conditions. It snowed during the Winter Classic on Jan. 1, but Craig said the NHL got through that game fine. According to weather.com, it will be cloudy on Sunday.

2. POINTS, POINTS, POINTS: These games aren't just for entertainment. All three teams are in the hunt for the playoffs and need the points. Entering Friday's action, the Rangers are the only team in playoff position, but they are far from a lock to make it. The Devils are four points behind them, having played two fewer games. The Islanders are eight behind the Rangers but have played the same amount of games -- so they need to grab wins fast.

3. WHO'S THE TOP STAR IN N.Y.?: He's perhaps the best athlete in New York at the moment, but gets mentioned maybe half as much as other Big Apple stars. Islanders center John Tavares comes to the Bronx on Wednesday looking to put on a show. Tavares has 63 points this season, second in the league to Sidney Crosby. He's one of the league's premier players and watching him play is worth the price of admission. You can be sure the Rangers will have plenty of eyes on him.

4. TALK ABOUT AMBIANCE: Part of the allure of the Stadium Series is seeing an NHL game played in an MLB stadium. With the game being played at Yankee Stadium, it makes it all the more special. While the new Stadium may not be the old one, it's still host to one of the top organizations in sports. These are the first hockey games at the Stadium and it will create memorable moments for all.

5. CAN THE RANGERS BEAT THESE GUYS?: The Rangers would probably rather play other teams besides the Devils and Islanders in these games. They are currently 1-4-1 against them, and have gone 0-3-1 in their past four meetings. The Rangers only own a win over the Islanders, and that came Oct. 29. They lost to the Islanders 5-3 on Tuesday.

CeeLo to perform at Stadium Series

January, 24, 2014
Jan 24
12:35
PM ET
Artist CeeLo Green will headline the entertainment for the pair of Stadium Series games to be held at Yankee Stadium on Jan. 26 and Jan. 29, the NHL announced Friday.

[+] EnlargeCee Lo Green
Steve Mack/NHLI/Getty ImagesCeeLo Green
Other entertainment includes singer-actress Michelle Williams, the cast of Jersey Boys, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, the FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, actor Marin Mazzie, Beatles tribute band Strawberry Fields and the NYPD Pipes and Drums.

The NHL takes over Yankee Stadium starting Jan. 26 when the Devils will host the Rangers, and three days later when the Islanders face the Rangers.

Green, who stars on NBC's "The Voice" and is a five-time Grammy Award winner, will perform on Jan. 29 before the game and during the first intermission. Williams will sing the National Anthem that night and Strawberry Fields will perform during the second intermission. The game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, Jersey Boys will perform pregame, and the FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, and the NYPD Pipes and Drums will play as the Rangers and Devils are introduced. Mazzie will perform the National Anthem, and Southside Johnny and Asbury Jukes is the first intermission entertainment.

These are the first hockey games Yankee Stadium will host.

"Our goal with the NHL Stadium Series games is to give our fans an unforgettable experience," NHL Executive VP of Events Don Renzulli said in a release. "We’re very excited about the entertainment line-up for our twin bill at Yankee Stadium, which celebrates the City of New York and the entire Metropolitan area, and pays homage to the teams, the venue, and our fans.”

Surging Isles snap Rangers' win streak

January, 21, 2014
Jan 21
11:19
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Polar vortex be damned, the Islanders are heating up.

With their 10th win in the past 13 games, the plucky Islanders rallied from a 2-0 deficit to knock off the New York Rangers 5-3 at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night, snapping the Rangers' three-game winning streak in the first of three meetings between the two clubs over the next 12 days.

[+] EnlargeThomas Vanek
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesThomas Vanek scored the game-winning goal with 4:38 left in the third period.
With the come-from-behind victory, the Islanders have now won nine of their past 11 road games.

The team's top line of Thomas Vanek, John Tavares and Kyle Okposo had what Rangers coach Alain Vigneault described as "quite an evening," combining for seven points among them.

Tavares and Vanek connected late in the third for what stood up as the game winner, executing a beautiful power-play goal to take a 4-3 lead at 4:38 after the Rangers were whistled for a too-many-men bench minor.

Tavares finished the night with a team-leading three assists.

"The whole game didn't feel totally right," said alternate captain Brad Richards.

Indeed, even when the Rangers took a 2-0 lead in the first compliments of Rick Nash's second straight multigoal game (and third in the course of a nine-game span), it never really felt like they had control of the game. The Islanders looked and played desperate, buzzing from the beginning, controlling the puck, and generating chances on Rangers goaltender Cam Talbot, who started in place of Henrik Lundqvist (flu).

When the Islanders cut the lead in half on Matt Martin's goal with 2:38 remaining in the first period, there was the sense that the game was going to take a turn.

"They were hungry," Nash said. "They played a good road game."

In contrast, the Rangers did not show that same level of intensity. Instead, they seemed to surrender some of the confidence and moxie they have shown of late.

"I think we were a little flat, especially at the start of the first period," defenseman Anton Stralman said. "We couldn't find our jump."

Though the Rangers had built a 3-1 lead following Chris Kreider's power-play marker in the second period -- the speedy winger finished the night with three points -- the Islanders just kept battling.

The Rangers struggled in their own end through stretches, allowing the Isles to capitalize and tie the game in the second period. A pretty passing sequence led to Thomas Hickey's third goal of the season at 13:22 of the second period and Colin McDonald buried a rebound to knot the score at 3 with 3:24 remaining in the middle frame.

"They were coming at us hard," said Rangers captain Ryan Callahan. "You have to give them credit, they were coming."

Though the Islanders remain in last place in the Metropolitan Division, they sit only five points back of the last wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. That enough is fuel for the Islanders, who made their first playoff appearance in six years last spring, to keep fighting for a postseason berth.

Is the belief still alive in the room?

"Absolutely," McDonald told ESPNNewYork.com Tuesday morning before the game. "Especially because of last year, making that push."

Meanwhile, the Rangers came down to earth after a fine week in which they downed the Red Wings, Senators and Capitals.

They let up on the gas Tuesday night and they were saddled with a loss as a result.

"We wanted to keep that streak going," Stralman said. "We didn't put forth a good enough effort to continue it."

Rapid Reaction: Isles 5, Rangers 3

January, 21, 2014
Jan 21
9:48
PM ET
NEW YORK -- The Rangers saw a two-goal lead disappear as the surging Islanders rallied for a spirited come-from-behind win, 5-3 at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night.

Thomas Vanek snapped a 3-3 tie with 4:38 remaining in the third period with a beautiful power-play goal aided by superstar center John Tavares, who finished with three assists on the night.

Rick Nash remained red-hot, boosting the Rangers with a pair of first-period goals for the second straight game, while linemate Chris Kreider recorded three points in the opening frame, including his 13th goal of the season, but Tavares and his plucky Islanders squad nullified those efforts.

Vanek also finished the night with two points with his game winner and a helper. Tavares' primary assist on Matt Martin's first-period goal was his first point against the Rangers this season.

The Rangers were without goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who missed the game with an illness. Backup Cam Talbot gave up four goals on 36 shots.

Double up: With his second consecutive multigoal game, and his third in a nine-game span, Nash gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead in the first period although the Blueshirts were outplayed by the Islanders in large stretches. Nash, who notched his first just 62 seconds into play, leads the Rangers with 16 goals and has nine goals in the past nine games. The 6-4 winger has forged what appears to be some promising chemistry with Kreider, whose speed has helped create an abundance of quality scoring chances for the two-time 40-goal scorer. Kreider assisted on both of Nash's first-period markers and scored one of his own, a power-play goal, in the second period by tapping in a loose puck behind Kevin Poulin for a 3-1 Rangers lead.

Second-period swing: Matt Martin tallied late in the first period to cut the Rangers' 2-0 lead in half with 2:38 to play, and his Islanders teammates kept chipping away to tie the game 3-3 with a pair of markers from Thomas Hickey and Colin McDonald in the second period.

Roll Call: With Lundqvist out due to an illness and Talbot given the starting nod, the Rangers were forced to scramble for a backup goaltender -- a task made even more difficult with the inclement weather. The Rangers ultimately released 30-year-old journeyman David LeNeveu from his minor league deal with Hartford (AHL) and subsequently signed him to a two-way NHL deal. LeNeveu backed up Talbot for his first NHL appearance since 2010-11.

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