Rick Nash scored the tying goal late in the third period and assisted on Marian Gaborik's game-winner 42 seconds into overtime as the Rangers extended their winning streak to a season-high four games with a 2-1 victory over the Islanders Thursday night at the Nassau Coliseum.
With Michael Grabner in the penalty box for hooking Michael Del Zotto, Nash slid the puck to Gaborik straightaway, and Gaborik blasted a shot past the screened Evgeni Nabokov for the game-winning goal. It was Gaborik's eighth goal of the season, and first in nine games.
Nabokov, who was terrific through out the game Thursday, finished with 35 saves, while the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves.
Nash scored the equalizer with five minutes 23 seconds remaining in regulation. Stationed to the right of Nabokov, Nash deflected Derek Stepan's left wing shot down and past the Islanders' goalie for his team-leading eighth goal of the season and fifth in four games since returning from injury. Including his assist on Gaborik's goal, Nash now has eight points in his last four games---not coincidentally all Rangers victories.
It took the Rangers 32 shots to finally get the puck past an extremely sharp Nabokov, who only moments before Nash's goal had stared down Darroll Powe's wide-open one-on-one scoring opportunity. The Rangers blitzed Nabokov with 15 shots in a dominating third period, but the veteran netminder allowed only Nash's score which forced overtime.
The Islanders had grabbed a 1-0 lead 11:51 into the first period and were able to carry that lead into the third period thanks to the rock solid play of Nabokov, who denied all 20 Rangers shots he faced through 40 minutes of play. Nabokov made 14 saves in the opening period---his best being a well-positioned stop on Steve Eminger, who shot off the rush and a slick feed from Nash. In the second period Nabokov was called upon to make only six stops, though his saves on a Taylor Pyatt stuff attempt and a J.T. Miller point-blank one-timer from the low slot were noteworthy. Miller was later stoned on the doorstep by Nabokov in the opening minute of the third period.
Though they had fewer shots in the second period than they did in the first, the Rangers controlled the puck more and were extremely effective on the forecheck. The Isles, though, did a good job blocking shots and passing lanes, while the Rangers also hurt themselves by firing 16 shots wide of the net. And the Rangers were also a bit unfortunate as a low Nash shot early in the second period hit the inside of the far post and caromed right back out.
Nash was at it again seven minutes into the third period when he skated past every Islander on the ice while bulling to the net, only to have Nabokov stop his shot.
Grabner had opened the scoring with his tenth goal of the season midway through the first period, roofing his shot from the slot over Lundqvist's glove after Colin McDonald had passed from behind the net. The Islanders recorded 12 shots in the opening stanza and another seven in the middle 20 minutes.
Lundqvist made his best save with 3:45 to play in the second period when he used his blocker to deny Matt Martin's shorthanded breakaway attempt. He also made a pair of strong in-tight saves on Matt Moulson with the Isles trying to double their advantage early in the third period.
Roman Hamrlik replaced the injured Marc Staal in the lineup, making his Rangers debut, ironically against one of his former teams. Hamrlik primarily paired with Eminger at even strength, and even saw some time on the second power play unit. He recorded a shot on goal in the first period when he logged 6:52 worth of ice-time.
The Rangers played without three injured regulars as Brad Richards and Arron Asham also joined Staal on the sidelines.
What do you think of the Rangers latest win? And what of Rick Nash providing late-game heroics yet again? Share your thoughts on the game below.