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After outdoor mastery, Rangers return to MSG to battle Isles
(SportsNetwork.com) - Two days after facing off under the lights at Yankee Stadium, the Rangers and Islanders will reconvene indoors for Friday's Metropolitan Division clash at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers played two games outdoors in the Bronx and were the designated road team in both contests. The Blueshirts slammed the New Jersey Devils by a 7-3 score on Sunday afternoon and then notched a 2-1 regulation decision Wednesday night against the Islanders.
With those two recent wins and a victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2012 Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park, the Rangers are 3-0 in outdoor games. No other NHL team has even won two games outdoors.
Daniel Carcillo was the unlikely offensive hero in Wednesday's tilt at Yankee Stadium. The enforcer broke a tie 4:36 into the third period and the Rangers were able to hold on for the close victory thanks in part to a solid performance from goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who made 30 saves to post the win.
The Rangers went ahead when Carcillo banged home a rebound in the slot. Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov had turned away Dominic Moore's shot from the bottom of the right circle, but couldn't prevent Carcillo from pumping in the eventual game-winner.
The Islanders had a couple of close calls with Nabokov on the bench for an extra skater. The best chance belonged to Kyle Okposo, who was alone on the doorstep but missed the net with four seconds remaining.
"Obviously, tonight the conditions, the puck was bouncing quite a bit for both teams. It made it challenging to make plays with the puck," Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said. "It was a very competitive game and we were able to put one more past their goaltender than they were able to put past ours."
Nabokov stopped 32 shots in his first start since he suffered a lower-body injury against Dallas on Jan. 6. The loss was the fourth straight (0-3-1) for the Islanders, who had won seven of nine games before this slide.
"We tried to dictate the pace, and they were pushing the pace," Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said.
The Rangers have won five of their last seven games and enter Friday in second place in the Metropolitan Division. The Blueshirts are three points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets for that distinction but are still 17 points in back of Pittsburgh for first place.
The Islanders, meanwhile, are 14th in the Eastern Conference, but are still only eight points removed from a playoff spot.
This evening's tilt marks the fifth and final scheduled meeting between the Rangers and Isles this season. The clubs have split four encounters so far in 2013-14, but the Rangers have won six of the past nine tilts overall.
The Isles have fared well on the road in the recent history of this series, taking three straight at MSG.
01/31 10:51:41 ET