Rangers vs. Islanders Preview
NEW YORK, NY (AP) - Finding consistency has been a problem for the New York Rangers. That level of success must sound very appealing to their longtime rivals.
The Rangers will try to continue their strong road play and avenge an earlier loss this season to the New York Islanders on Thursday night when the teams open a home-and-home series.
After ending their three-game road trip with wins over Florida and Nashville, the Rangers (14-11-1) were back home Monday and lost 3-1 to red-hot Pittsburgh. Marian Gaborik returned from a one-game absence, despite still feeling the effects of the flu, and scored in the second period for New York, which has yet to win or lose more than three straight games this season.
Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Rangers -129 money line favorites for Thursday's game against the Islanders. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 77% of more than 102 bets for this game have been placed on the Islanders +119.
"It was a pretty open game," said Henrik Lundqvist, who made 24 saves. "They had that stretch in the second period where their transition game hurt us."
The Rangers had won four of five overall before Monday but dropped to 5-7-1 at home, compared to 9-4-0 on the road.
One of those road losses came at Nassau Coliseum on Oct. 11, when the Islanders (5-12-5) scored three third-period goals - two on the power play - to rally for a 6-4 victory. The defeat was only the second for the Rangers in their last nine visits to Long Island.
Monday's game closed a very busy month for the Rangers, one that saw the team play 16 games in 29 days. They finished November with a 9-7-0 record.
"It was a tough month," right wing Ryan Callahan told the team's official website. "We had a lot of games in a short amount of time. I thought we did pretty well with it. Obviously we wanted to get this last one tonight, but overall, the whole month, I thought we worked hard."
The Rangers hope to have a fully healthy Gaborik continue his production against the Islanders. He has four goals and four assists in eight games against them since joining New York for the 2009-10 season.
Scoring from Gaborik could be a necessity with Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Callahan - the team's three top scorers - all struggling. Dubinsky has no goals in five games, Callahan has three in 15 and Anisimov has one in his past nine contests.
A weak offense is one of a myriad of problems the Islanders have struggled to overcome. They are last in the league with 15 points, rank second-to-last with 46 goals and went 14 games without a win before beating New Jersey 2-0 on Saturday.
Rick DiPietro stopped 29 shots as the Islanders barely avoided matching the club record of 15 games without a victory, set Nov. 22-Dec. 23, 1999.
"It's like a big weight was taken off our shoulders," center John Tavares said. "It was a great job by the penalty killers, and a great job by Ricky."
The victory was the first for Islanders coach Jack Capuano since taking over for the fired Scott Gordon last week. Capuano had been coaching the Islanders' AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, and went 0-2-2 in his first four games.
DiPietro is scheduled to make his fourth straight start Thursday. He has a 1.96 goals-against average in his last three games after compiling a 4.21 mark in his first seven.
The Islanders are scoreless on 29 power-play chances over the last eight games.
These teams meet again Friday at Madison Square Garden.