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Interstate Battle

Coming off an extremely successful road trip, the New York Rangers might not be so eager to return home given the fact they have to face the New York Islanders.

The Rangers look to avoid their third straight loss to the Islanders this season when the teams meet Monday at Madison Square Garden.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made NY Rangers -175 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 91% of bets for this game have been placed on NY Islanders +165 (View NHL Bet Percentages).

The Rangers (12-7-1) have won five straight games and nine of their last 10. They are trying for their first six-game winning streak since February 2006, but have struggled against the Islanders (10-6-0) in recent meetings.

The Isles have taken two games from their local rivals this season - both at Nassau Coliseum - and won three of four meetings at Madison Square Garden in 2006-07. They are 8-1-2 in their last 11 overall matchups against the Rangers.

The Rangers, though, have won five straight home games overall to improve to 8-2-0 at MSG this season. They also return to the Garden with plenty of momentum following an unbeaten four-game road trip. Three of the four wins came after regulation, including a 4-3 overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.

All four Rangers goals were scored by defensemen, including two from Michal Rozsival to bring his season total to six - tied with Brendan Shanahan for the team lead.

"When you have tight hockey like that, often times those defensemen are very much part of the offense," Rangers coach Tom Renney said. "Under the circumstances, it is a little unique but I don't care if the trend continues."

Daniel Girardi also scored for the Rangers, before Jason Strudwick tallied the game-winner 1:40 into overtime.

"All I tried to do was get my stick on it and push it to the net," said Strudwick, who hadn't scored a goal since Jan. 28 - also against Pittsburgh. "It worked out this time."

Despite scoring four goals in four of their last five games, the Rangers are among the lowest-scoring teams in the Eastern Conference with 43 on the season.

The Islanders, who are wrapping up a four-game road trip, also have only 43 goals this season and have been limited to two or fewer in each of their last four games. They beat the New Jersey Devils 1-0 on Friday, though, to avoid a third consecutive loss.

Josef Vasicek scored the only goal of the game while Rick DiPietro made 26 saves to record his second shutout of 2007-08.

"Rick has been playing great," said Vasicek, whose second-period goal was his team-leading seventh of the season - one more than he had all of last year. "We know going in that he's going to give us a chance to win every time we step on the ice."

DiPietro improved to 9-5-0 with a 2.35 goals-against average. He is 9-11-2 with a 3.16 lifetime GAA against the Rangers. The 11 losses are his most against any opponent, but he has already defeated the Rangers twice this season.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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