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Islanders take it to Rangers once again

Jan 28, 2015 - 4:04 AM Uniondale, NY ( - Jaroslav Halak stoned the New York Rangers once again as the New York Islanders maintained their recent mastery of their crosstown rivals with a 4-1 victory at Nassau Coliseum.

Two weeks after shutting out the Rangers in Madison Square Garden, Halak came within 8.1 seconds of another to lead the Islanders to their third win over the Blueshirts in as many meetings this season.

The Islanders have outscored the Rangers 13-4 in those matchups.

"We haven't played well against this team, and it starts with our will to compete, a will to want to make plays and have confidence," Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh said. "We're just trying to catch these guys in the standings. They're playing real well and they're pulling ahead here, so we've got to find a way to consistently put a string of games together against the teams that are ahead of us and in our division."

Mikhail Grabovski returned from a five-game absence to record the first of the Islanders' goals, with Matt Martin, Ryan Strome and John Tavares also scoring in the Metropolitan Division leaders' sixth win in seven games.

"Everybody did a great job tonight," Halak said, "It's too bad they scored at the end, but it's two points at home."

Carl Hagelin spoiled Halak's shutout bid with a power-play tally and Henrik Lundqvist came up with 34 saves in the loss, which halted the Rangers' three- game win streak prior to the All-Star break.

The Islanders set the tone by peppering Lundqvist with 17 shots during a fast- paced first period, though they weren't able to get one through until a Rangers' turnover late in the stanza set up the game's initial goal.

The giveaway led to an Islanders' rush that Tavares started and Grabovski finished by slipping a give from Josh Bailey past Lundqvist while uncovered in front of the net 1:55 prior to the first intermission.

Martin extended the lead to 2-0 with 4:11 elapsed in the second. Cal Clutterbuck had the rebound of Casey Cizikas' long drive kicked out to him and quickly sent a pass for his linemate to deposit as Martin was stationed to the right of the Rangers' goal.

Halak protected the two-goal advantage with brilliant work during the middle session, with the All-Star turning aside 18 Rangers chances and helping kill off a pair of penalties.

"I thought the second period, that was a big period for (the Rangers)," said Islanders head coach Jack Capuano. "They grinded us out. Our goalie made some terrific saves to keep us right where we needed to be."

The Islanders gave him some additional cushion in the final frame. A 2-on-1 between Strome and Frans Nielsen ended in Lundqvist failing to handle the former's wrister that deflected off the stick of McDonagh 6:12 into the third. Tavares made it 4-0 later on by rifling home a shot from the right side on a 5-on-3 power play.

The Rangers' lone highlight didn't occur until the final seconds, when Hagelin put the rebound of Dominic Moore's attempt under Halak's left arm to prevent the shutout.

Game Notes

Grabovski had been sidelined by a lower-body injury ... The Islanders recorded their first three-game win streak over the Rangers in a single season since Oct. 10-Nov. 19, 2007 ... Tavares, who potted four goals in Sunday's All-Star Game, now has seven points (3G, 4A) over his last four games ... Isles defenseman Johnny Boychuk finished with two assists ... Lundqvist had produced an 0.99 goals-against average in winning his previous four starts at Uniondale.