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Three quick goals chase Snow

1/10/2004

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) -- Glen Sather believes his New York Rangers
are a playoff-caliber team. They prove it to their coach and
general manager whenever they face the New York Islanders.

"It seems when we play this team there's a lot more
concentration," Sather said after the Rangers' 3-2 victory
Saturday. "We've been trying all year to get these guys to
concentrate on every game like it's an Islander game."

Eric Lindros' goal and assist sparked a three-goal in a 1:38
span in the first period, and then the Rangers hung on.

"I liked the way we played after they got to 3-2," Sather
said.

Chris Simon and Martin Rucinsky also scored for the Rangers, who
rebounded from two poor losses this week against Calgary and
Carolina to stretch their unbeaten streak against the Islanders to
5-0-2.

The Rangers, 8-1-1 at Nassau Coliseum since Dec. 23, 1999, moved
within two points of the Islanders as they try to end a six-year
playoff drought.

Justin Papineau and Mattias Weinhandl scored second-period goals
for the Islanders, who have dropped two of three home games after
winning seven straight there.

Lindros started the scoring 6:03 in when he deflected Petr
Nedved's shot, with his back to the goal, past Garth Snow. Lindros
got the next play going, too, when he made a cross-ice pass to
Matthew Barnaby in the right circle. Barnaby spotted Simon alone in
front for a redirection goal that made it 2-0 at 7:24.

Sather called Lindros the Rangers' best player the past month.
He's had four goals and 12 assists the past 16 games.

"I've felt good all year," Lindros said.

Rucinsky made it 3-2 just 17 seconds after Simon's goal to chase
Snow.

"I thought we played the first minute good, and the next 19, we
played intimidated -- more mentally than physically," Islanders
coach Steve Stirling said. "We played well for 20 minutes -- the
second period."

Snow made only four saves on seven shots before being replaced
by Rick DiPietro, who played for the second straight game. DiPietro
made 21 saves Thursday against Edmonton in his first victory since
Dec. 6.

"I don't think we came out as a team in the first period,"
Snow said. "They just outplayed us. Individually, we were not
where we should be."

Before Thursday, Snow played 15 straight games. DiPietro, who
has played five NHL games since early December, was perfect on 26
shots and even blocked two with his mask.

Mike Dunham made 27 saves for the Rangers, including stops to
deny Roman Hamrlik in the first with his stick, and Trent Hunter in
the third with his skate.

After weathering one of the Rangers' strongest periods this
season, the Islanders got back in it in the second.

Papineau made it 3-1 at 9:55 with his third goal in two games.
Oleg Kvasha skated behind the net and found Papineau alone in front
for the score. Defenseman Boris Mironov was unable to cover after
he was hobbled seconds earlier by a puck.

The Islanders got within 3-2 when they scored their third
power-play goal in three games after going three without one.
Weinhandl put his own rebound between Dunham's pads at 12:36,
assisted by Kvasha.

"We played well enough with the lead to keep it," Rangers
forward Bobby Holik said. "Dunny made saves that were necessary to
be made and we won. We were far from being perfect."

The Islanders pressed for the tying goal late, and when DiPietro
was pulled for an extra skater he placed his stick down
horizontally across the crease. The Rangers were irate but were
unaware if that was against the rules, as was DiPietro.

"It seems like a good play," DiPietro said. "Next time it
might be a yard sale, maybe the helmet and the gloves."

Game notes
Rangers D Greg de Vries' consecutive games streak ended at
223, the NHL's sixth-longest active run. He is expected to be out
four to six weeks because of a sprained knee. ... Islanders D Eric
Cairns missed his third straight game with back spasms. ... The
Rangers have had seven three-goal periods this season.