Gaborik looks to build on another hat trick as the Rangers attempt to sweep a home-and-home set with the last-place Islanders on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
Gaborik has four goals and one assist in two games after missing one with flu-like symptoms. The oft-injured star, who missed 12 games earlier this season with a separated shoulder, has eight goals and seven assists in 14 contests.
He proved his importance to the Rangers (15-11-1) again with his second hat trick of the season and an assist in a back-and-forth 6-5 win over the Islanders (5-13-5) on Thursday.
“Hopefully we can build on this,” said Gaborik, who has 11 goals and eight assists in his last 11 games against the Islanders. “We just have to make sure we don’t give them as much as we did in the second and third periods.”
Through two meetings in 2010-11, the Rangers have struggled to slow down the Islanders, owners of the fewest points in the NHL. They gave up the last three goals in a 6-4 loss on Long Island on Oct. 11, and Thursday’s win saw them squander two leads before Gaborik closed the scoring with 5:25 to play.
Gaborik’s outburst came after a change in linemates. Sean Avery(notes) was moved to the top line with Gaborik and Erik Christensen(notes), and they accumulated nine points, with Avery getting three assists - two on goals by Gaborik.
“He just creates the play so well and he gets open. When he gets open it’s easy to get him the puck,” Avery said of Gaborik. “The guy is one of the best goal scorers in the world. It’s certainly a fun thing to get to play with him.”
Gaborik had two goals and one assist in a 5-0 win over the Islanders in the most recent meeting at MSG on March 24.
Henrik Lundqvist(notes) almost certainly will start in goal for the Rangers after stopping nine of 11 shots upon replacing Martin Biron(notes) with 7:30 left in the second period Thursday. Biron, a former Islander, had been staked to a 2-0 lead, but allowed three straight goals before being pulled.
Lundqvist lost to the Islanders in October, but is 3-1-1 with a 1.99 goals-against average and a shutout in his last five home games against them.
The Islanders appear to be getting frustrated during a 1-12-3 stretch, which includes a 14-game slide.
Blake Comeau(notes) has been a surprising offensive force versus the Rangers, scoring three of his four goals with two assists against them this season. The left wing has 10 goals and six assists in 15 career games against them
Comeau has recorded a point in six of seven visits to MSG.