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Messier leads team with 11 goals this year

NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Rangers outplayed their biggest
rivals in every way possible, and the New York Islanders knew it.

Mike Dunham turned aside 23 shots, and four Rangers scored in a
4-3 victory Thursday night.

"It was disappointing," Islanders coach Steve Stirling said.
"They outskated us, outworked us, and most importantly, outmuscled
us."

Petr Nedved, Mark Messier, Matthew Barnaby and Tom Poti scored
for the Rangers, who have won two of three. The Rangers lead the
all-time series with the Islanders 85-84-19 but had to hold on when
the lead was cut to one goal late.

"I don't think we're in a position to discriminate who we're
playing," Messier said. "We're not a playoff team for the last
few years, so I think we have to take every opponent as a worthy
opponent and a valuable two points."

The Islanders, who got goals from Jason Blake, Radek Martinek
and Dave Scatchard, continued to struggle on the road. They only
have two wins away from Long Island (2-8-2-1).

"Look at most of our (road) games," Islanders captain Michael
Peca said. "We get behind early. We're not committed to win enough
one-on-one battles."

Garth Snow started his fifth straight game in goal for the
Islanders and turned aside 26 shots. It was the Islanders' first
regulation loss in six games (4-1-0-1) following a seven-game
losing streak.

Snow, who has played well lately, came up with a huge save to
keep the game scoreless at 7:35. He dived across the crease and
brought his stick up to rob Alexei Kovalev.

The Rangers took a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 10:21.
Snow made a glove save on Jan Hlavac, but the puck popped out of
his mitt and sat in the crease for Nedved to knock into the open
net.

"The last two games (against the Islanders), we've gotten some
power play goals," Rangers defenseman Brian Leetch said. "It
makes a difference."

Messier made it 2-0 at 16:23. Snow came out to clear a turnover
and got knocked over by teammate Eric Cairns. Cairns was in
position to block a shot by Dan LaCouture, but the rebound was
there for Messier to pick up and push into the open net.

The nearly 43-year old Messier leads the Rangers with 11 goals.

"If it wasn't for Garth in the first, the score would have been
7-0," Peca said.

The Islanders got one back with 67 seconds left in the period
when Tom Poti accidentally deflected Blake's shot past Dunham with
his skate.

"We just looked nervous or intimidated -- not physically, but
maybe the building," Stirling said. "We had no one playing with
any kind of jam."

Barnaby restored the Rangers' two-goal lead 26 seconds into the
second period when he finished off a spinning backhand pass from
Leetch.

Poti boosted the Rangers' lead to 4-1 when he flipped a pass
from Eric Lindros past Snow on a power play at 9:39 of the third.

Martinek beat Dunham at 15:39.

With Snow pulled for a sixth attacker, Scatchard put a wrist
shot past Dunham with 44.5 seconds left to make it a one-goal game.
It was the Rangers' first one-goal victory this season after seven
straight losses.

"Yeah, it's never dull," Lindros said. "The parking fees
across the street are probably getting a little extra every time we
play at home. When we have a lead, everyone will be staying because
we can't seem to finish it. But the bottom line is we got the job
done."

The Islanders appeared to be finished early, before making their
last-minute charge.

"It's getting a little old," Islanders defenseman Adrian
Aucoin said. "It's easy hockey when you're three goals down in the
third period."

Game notes
Since the first meeting between the two clubs, a 4-2
Rangers victory on Long Island on Dec. 4, the teams went in
opposite directions. The Rangers, who had a seven point lead on the
Islanders, lost three of their next four games, while the Islanders
went 4-0-0-1. ... Islanders G Rick DiPietro dressed as Snow's
backup, despite having the flu. ... The Islanders were 6-2-2 in
their previous 10 visits to Madison Square Garden. ... Lindros
earned his 800th NHL point.