NEW YORK — If the New York Rangers
are going to make a successful, last-ditch run at a playoff spot, this
is the Marian Gaborik they will need in the final nine games.
He looked healthy, inspired, and he
skated at an All-Star level.
Gaborik had a goal and an assist
during a three-goal first period, then scored again in the final frame
in the Rangers' 5-0 win over the New York Islanders on Wednesday night.
After losing three straight, including a devastating 2-1 loss Sunday at
Boston, the Rangers brought a newfound looseness into this one.
They will require a similar
performance Thursday when they visit the New Jersey Devils.
The Rangers came out hard and scored
three times on 12 shots in the first 8:30 against goalie Dwayne Roloson.
The 10th-place Rangers moved within five points of eighth-place Boston.
"We just have to focus on carrying
this game over," Gaborik said. "We're still alive and we believe."
Gaborik scored his second of the game
and team-leading 39th this season with 9:16 left. Defenseman Dan Girardi
added New York's second power-play tally with 3:41 remaining to make it
Artem Anisimov got the offense started
at 3:12. Gaborik followed 2:33 later and then helped set up defenseman
Michael Del Zotto's power-play goal at 8:30 that made it 3-0. The
Rangers held a 12-2 shots edge at that point and went on to outshoot the
Islanders 44-27, making it a relatively easy night for goalie Henrik
"Embarrassing," Islanders forward Kyle
Okposo said. "We came out flat. We weren't ready to play. They had 14
shots in the first 10 minutes. That's not the way we play hockey here."
It was Lundqvist's third shutout of
the season and the 23rd of his five-year NHL career. He is one win away
from his fifth straight 30-win campaign.
"When you get a win like this, you
start to feel it again," Lundqvist said. "It's been a while since we
have had this feeling. The only thing we can do right now is continue to
battle and fight."
The game was the first hockey contest
to be shown on 3D television, but it didn't take high technology to see
which team played with more desperation. The Islanders, playing for the
first time since an 1-1-1 West Coast trip ended Saturday, are 14th in
the 15-team Eastern Conference. They have been shut out in consecutive
games and haven't scored since the second period of Friday night's
overtime loss at Anaheim — a stretch of 145 minutes, 43 seconds.
Roloson recovered from his rough
start and finished with 39 saves. He kept the Islanders in relative
shooting distance by stopping Erik Christensen and Gaborik on breakaways
in the second period when the Rangers outshot the Islanders 17-3.
"You can't win hockey games coming
out and playing like that," Roloson said. "It's a big rivalry. It's
potentially playoff hopes on the line here. To come out like that is
"I can't worry about anybody else.
I've just got to focus on what I do and try to give our guys a chance."
The Rangers said Tuesday after
practice that a looser atmosphere enveloped the team after Sunday's loss
delivered a severe blow to their playoff hopes.
They wasted little time in displaying
an intense focus that was arguably missing in the loss to Boston and
through large chunks of what has shaped up to be a disappointing season —
the first full campaign under coach John Tortorella.
"They deserved to win," Tortorella
said. "If they can be loose and feel good about themselves and just
allow themselves to play, we'll take our chances.
"It's going to be more difficult
tomorrow. No offense to the Islanders, but the New Jersey Devils are a
better hockey club."
Sean Avery quickly got under the skin
of the Islanders, jawing with Roloson and engaging in a discussion with
defenseman Bruno Gervais. Avery was also seen chatting with Trevor
Gillies and Freddy Meyer during pregame warmups.
Gaborik, who injured a groin during
the Vancouver Olympics, had only two goals and five assists in eight
games following the break. He took a pass from Brandon Dubinsky from
behind the net and scored from in front to make it 2-0. Gaborik's pass
from the left circle to the right circle set up Del Zotto's one-timer
that pushed the lead to three.
"He was skating right from the
get-go," Tortorella said of Gaborik.
Anisimov also scored from the right
circle after a shot from Matt Gilroy hit Rangers teammate Jody Shelley
The Rangers failed to score on
a two-minute, 5-on-3 advantage in the third period, but converted on the
second half of the power play. … Islanders D Dustin Kohn was injured
in the third and didn't return.