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Islanders storm back, pull off shootout win over Rangers

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- Having lost their last five games and falling behind by two goals in the first period, the New York Islanders got a "kick in the butt" from their coaches entering the second period Thursday night.

The New York Rangers, having won their past three and again jumping out to an early lead, "settled in" perhaps too much, as coach John Tortorella said.

The contrast opened the door that the Islanders slammed to a 4-3 come-from-behind shootout win. The Isles (5-7-1) scored three goals in the second period -- including two within a minute -- to jolt the Rangers, who recovered to tie the game.

Frans Nielsen and John Tavares then each put in shootout goals in the first two rounds while Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov twice stopped the Rangers to give the Islanders their first win at Madison Square Garden in the last nine visits.

"This is a great feeling, this is what we want to do. I sure hope so," said Tavares, who scored in regulation for the fourth straight game. "Just the way we responded, even when things didn't go well, was much better than the last five games."

Nabokov stopped Marian Gaborik and Rick Nash in the shootout as the Rangers (7-5-1) failed to win for the first time in their past four games. It was also the first time the Rangers lost this year after scoring the first goal and their second straight game decided by a shootout after losing an early lead.

"We usually want to get the first goal; we play extremely well, especially when we get two," said Carl Hagelin, who scored his fifth goal of the year -- and just the Rangers' fifth power-play goal of the season -- and had an assist. "I don't know if we got a bit too lazy or too comfortable, maybe. We gave them three quick ones there. Those 12 minutes we didn't play the way we wanted."

Gaborik added his seventh goal of the year and Dan Girardi had his first for the Rangers. Colin McDonald and Brad Boyes scored in regulation for the Islanders.

Martin Biron made 28 saves for the Rangers, in just his second start of the season, including several key stops at the end of the third and in overtime, which prompted Rangers fans screaming for Henrik Lundqvist in the second period to chant Biron's name instead. Nabokov made 36 saves for the Isles, turning away several flurries by the Rangers late in regulation and OT.

The Rangers had blown an early two-goal lead while the Islanders scored three in the second period, but the Rangers tied it, 3-3 at the 11:14 mark of the second on the rare power-play goal, by Hagelin.

The play was not originally called a goal, but was ruled a score after a review, as the replay showed a persistent Hagelin clearly poked it past the line as Nabokov tried to smother the puck.

After going almost the first 14 minutes without a shot and trailing 2-0 after the first period, the Islanders stunned the Rangers with a flurry of goals in the second period to go up 3-2.

"We didn't start well, but we got that kick in the butt and then we got going," Nabokov said of the Islanders coaches getting on them during the first intermission.

McDonald scored just 29 seconds into the second, taking a pass from the back of the net from Casey Cizikas to cut the Rangers' lead to 2-1.

Tortorella said the Islanders hadn't "defended worth a (expletive)" to that point, but defended well after that, as the goal "gave them life."

The Islanders tied the game at the 6:45 mark of the second after successfully killing back-to-back penalties that gave the Rangers a 5-on-3 for 33 seconds a few moments earlier.

Tavares took it himself on a two-on-one breakaway, skating in from the left side and flipping it past Biron's right, to tie the game, 2-2.

Less than a minute later, the Islanders took a 3-2 lead when Boyes knocked in a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle, with assists going to Lobomir Visnovsky and Strait. Frustrated Rangers fans chanted for Lundqvist to replace Biron, who would eventually fall to 21-5-1 career against the Islanders.

"We responded in the second and we made some changes with our lines and I liked the way we responded and played well," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said.

The Rangers had jumped out to an early lead for the fourth straight game, going up 2-0 in the first on goals by Girardi and Gaborik.

NOTES: Rangers center Brian Boyle, who had no goals and one assist in the first nine games, was back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the past three. ... Rangers rookie J.T. Miller, who scored two goals in his Garden debut, played in his fifth game Thursday night, meaning if he played in another game, this year would count as the first in his entry-level contract. Miller was switched to right wing from center Thursday, as coach Tortorella said in his pre-game press conference the 19-year-old's defense wasn't yet strong enough to play center. ... Islanders forward Eric Boulton and Rangers forward Arron Asham got into a fight about five minutes into the game, with both players landing some strong blows before the officials stepped in. ... Former Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha, awarded the Medal of Honor on Monday by President Barack Obama, attended the game and was given a long standing ovation when shown on the scoreboard video screen. Romesha was given the award for his courageous actions to prevent more casualties during an October 2009 battle in Afghanistan that left eight Americans dead and 22 wounded.
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