NEW YORK -- New York Rangers rookie J.T. Miller scored the first two goals of his NHL career to lead the Rangers to a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.
The 19-year-old forward, called up from AHL affiliate Connecticut on Monday, also gave the Rangers just their fourth goal in 37 power-play opportunities on his second goal.
Marc Staal had a pair of assists and Marian Gaborik broke out of a mini-slump with a goal for the Rangers (5-5-0), who welcomed back injured captain Ryan Callahan. Ryan McDonagh wrapped up the game with an empty-net goal and had an assist.
John Tavares scored his fifth goal of the season and Matt Moulson and Joe Finley assisted for the Islanders (4-5-1), who lost for the third straight time. The Isles were 0-for-5 on the power play and haven't scored on 19 attempts in their past three games.
Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves for the Rangers while Evgeni Nabokov had 21 stops for the Islanders.
Up 2-1 late in the second period, the Rangers appeared set to waste yet another power-play opportunity and allow a shorthanded goal instead as Islanders forward Michael Grabner zeroed in on Lundqvist in front of the net. But the Rangers goalie made a kick-save to his right, and a few moments later Rangers defenseman McDonagh found Miller down the other end of the ice.
Miller, who had drawn the interference penalty on Moulson to put the Rangers on the power play, then gave the Rangers a 3-1 lead with 25 seconds left in the man advantage. He poked the puck past Nabokov's right side with 1:49 left in the third.
Trailing 2-0 after the first period, the Islanders got on the board thanks to Tavares at the 11:13 mark of the second. His wrist shot sailed over Lundqvist's glove to make it 2-1.
After sitting forward Brian Boyle as a healthy scratch, Rangers coach John Tortorella said before the game he also considered benching more high profile players. He hinted that Gaborik, who entered the game with five goals, could be a consideration, but said the higher-profile players "have a bit of a bank account, five goals. Brian has squat. This is the situation. The other guys are going to be held accountable also."
Whether the message was received by Gaborik, he earned his first point in the past five games and sixth goal of the year, giving the Rangers a 2-0 lead at the 14:04 mark of the second period. Gaborik banged in a rebound off a Staal slapshot, with Brad Richards also getting an assist.
It didn't take Miller long to score his first NHL goal, giving the Rangers a 1-0 lead at the 1:29 mark of the first period on his first shift at the Garden. With assists from Kreider and Staal, Miller poked the puck past Nabokov's left side.
NOTES: The Islanders acquired the contract of goaltender Tim Thomas from the Boston Bruins, the teams announced, but it is unlikely Thomas will play for New York. Thomas, 38, did not want to play this season and is on the Bruins' suspended list. That status is likely to transfer to the Islanders, who sent the Bruins a conditional second-round pick. According to reports, the condition is if Thomas plays for the Islanders, so the exchange appears to simply be a move to create cap space for the Bruins in the last year of Thomas' four-year deal worth a reported $20 million while helping the Islanders reach the cap floor. ... Boyle, who has no goals and one assist this year, was a healthy scratch, missing his first regular-season game since the 2009-10 season. Asked what he wanted Boyle to get from his bench experience, coach John Tortorella replied, "To be miserable. And hope that he never puts me in this type of decision again." ... Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi was out for the second straight game with an undisclosed injury. ... Callahan had been out since last Tuesday with a subluxation of his left shoulder.