Rangers-Islanders Preview


Already a top-10 scoring team, the New York Islanders added one of only 15 players to score 20 goals in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.

They'll get their first look at new acquisition Thomas Vanek on Tuesday night when they face the rival New York Rangers for the first time this season.

The Islanders acquired Vanek - a two-time 40-goal scorer - from Buffalo on Sunday in exchange for Matt Moulson and two draft picks.

"It's a fresh start for me and hopefully I can help these guys out right away," Vanek told the team's official website. "I'm just happy to be here right now, taking it all in. An opportunity like this doesn't come around much. I'm going to try to make the most of it."

Vanek had four goals and five assists in 13 games with Buffalo, where he spent his first eight-plus seasons. He had 20 goals and 21 assists in 38 games in 2012-13 and scored at least 25 in each of his previous seven seasons.

He scored in his last game with the Sabres Saturday and has a four-game point streak. Vanek, captain John Tavares and Kyle Okposo skated together on the top line in practice Monday, according to the Islanders' official Twitter feed.

The combination of Vanek, Tavares and Okposo could be a very potent one. Tavares has a 10-game point streak after notching an assist in Saturday's 5-2 loss to Philadelphia, and Okposo has three goals and five assists during a five-game run.

''Anytime you trade a top player for a top player, that's where he's got to go,'' coach Jack Capuano said. ''He's very skilled, and he's good with the puck. He shoots the puck really well. He's got good size so, he'll start with Johnny and Kyle and we'll see where that plays out.''

While Tavares has produced 13 points in 11 games, it's Frans Nielsen that leads the team with 15. Nielsen, who had a career-best 17 goals in 2011-12, already has seven this season, one in each of the past four contests.

It's at the other end of the rink where the team's problems are.

The Islanders (4-4-3) allowed five goals for the second time in three games Saturday, this time to a team that hadn't scored more than two goals in any game this year.

Another struggling offensive team will be the opponent Tuesday. The Rangers (3-7-0) could certainly use a player of Vanek's caliber right now, having scored a league-low 15 goals.

That lack of offense was an issue again Monday, when New York's long-awaited home opener was spoiled with a 2-0 loss to Montreal.

Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves after missing two games with an undisclosed injury.

"It was a disappointing loss, but it was great to be back," said Lundqvist, whose team returned to completely refurbished Madison Square Garden after a season-opening nine-game road trip.

They Rangers are the only team in the league to be shut out three times, and they've scored two goals or fewer in seven of 10 games.

Last season's leading scorer Derek Stepan hasn't scored in 10 games this year, and only two players (Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan) have more than one goal.

The offense, though, could get a lift Tuesday with injured forward Carl Hagelin expected to make his season debut after missing the first 10 games while recovering from shoulder surgery.

The Rangers have dominated this rivalry of late, going 7-0-2 in the series since their last regulation loss Oct. 15, 2011.

Lundqvist is 9-2-0 with a 1.87 goals-against average in his last 11 starts against the Islanders. He stopped 29 shots in a 1-0 overtime win in the last meeting April 13 on Long Island.