Friday, January 31, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Rangers 4, Isles 1
By Katie Strang
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.