NEW YORK (AP)—Jason Blake called his first goal lucky and the second luckier. By the time he completed his hat trick, how the puck went in didn’t really matter.
The Islanders are 2-0 against the Rangers this season at Madison Square Garden and have used hat tricks to pace the offense each time. Viktor Kozlov scored four times in a 7-4 win on Dec. 3. Only five of the Islanders’ 13 hat tricks versus the Rangers have come on enemy ice.
“Every time you play a Rangers-Islanders game for some reason the intensity goes up a little bit,” Blake said. “Tonight was a new challenge.”
Blake quickly erased the Rangers’ only lead of the night in the first period and then scored two power-play goals in the second for his fourth NHL hat trick. He already has 19 goals, nine shy of his career best set last season.
“I don’t want to talk about it. I really don’t,” he said.
Alexei Yashin—in his second game back after missing eight with a knee injury—also scored in the middle frame for the Islanders. Rick DiPietro gave up two goals to Jaromir Jagr to let the Rangers get close, but finished with 30 saves to win for the fifth time in seven decisions.
The Rangers are injured, sick, and spiraling on the heels of their best stretch this season. They extended their season-high winning streak to five with a 5-2 victory at Dallas last Thursday, but have dropped three straight since— tying their worst run—and been outscored 19-6.
Brendan Shanahan and Jagr, presented with silver sticks before the game in honor of their 600th NHL goals, both added to their totals for the Rangers, who played their eighth game in 13 days. Jagr scored the final two and made it 4-3 with 8:15 left.
It wasn’t enough to help backup goalie Kevin Weekes, forced into action for the fifth time in six games because Henrik Lundqvist called in sick just hours before the opening faceoff. Weekes has allowed 10 goals on 54 shots in two games.
“It is definitely a time of adversity that we are battling through,” Shanahan said of the Rangers, missing four regulars. “We knew coming out that we had to be almost perfect with a depleted lineup.
“We had a lapse in the second period … it is unfortunate because I thought it was a pretty good effort by our team.”
After a 9-2 loss at Toronto on Saturday and a 6-1 home defeat against New Jersey a day later, the Rangers took an early lead.
Shanahan needed just 18 seconds of Tom Poti’s tripping penalty to give the Rangers a 1-0 advantage at 8:58—New York’s first power-play goal in 11 chances over three games.
But Blake intercepted Jagr’s behind-the-back pass in the neutral zone, cut across the Rangers’ end and wristed a shot past Weekes to tie it 43 seconds later.
The Rangers fell into their undisciplined ways in the second period and were short-handed for much of the first half.
Shanahan took a roughing penalty when he punched Brendan Witt in the face after a stoppage, and Jagr followed him into the box 25 seconds later to give the Islanders a 5-on-3 advantage.
“You don’t want to, but you do it,” Jagr said.
Blake made it hurt when his pass to Yashin hit the stick of Rangers defenseman Aaron Ward and slid past Weekes at 5:53.
Blake to Yashin and vice versa has been a popular connection this season for the Islanders.
“We can create great scoring chances, great opportunities,” Yashin said. “So far, it’s nice to see it’s been going in with consistency.”
Darius Kasparaitis went off for hooking at 6:54, putting the Rangers down two men again. Blake struck for No. 3 at 7:45, taking Miroslav Satan’s blind pass and ripping a shot from the right circle. That left Rangers coach Tom Renney shaking his head and muttering on the bench.
Yashin made it 4-1 at 12:31. Jagr cut the Rangers’ deficit in half during a power play in the final minute of the period.
Shanahan’s longtime Detroit teammate Steve Yzerman and Jagr’s former Pittsburgh linemate Mario Lemieux—also members of the 600-goal club—were surprise on-ice guests. … The Rangers were also without C Matt Cullen (knee), C Michael Nylander (flu) and D Marek Malik (groin). G Al Montoya, RW Ryan Callahan and D Thomas Pock were recalled from AHL Hartford. … Blake had an eight-game point streak snapped in the Islanders’ 7-4 win over the Rangers on Dec. 3. … Shanahan and Martin Straka had two assists each, Jagr one.