NEW YORK, N.Y. – Daniel Carcillo scored the tiebreaking goal 4:36 into the third period, and the New York Rangers completed a two-game sweep of the outdoor series with a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders at frigid Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night.
Building off their 7-3 win over New Jersey at the ballpark in the Bronx on Sunday, the Rangers took out another division rival under the lights in front of 50,027 fans. The temperature was 22 degrees when the first puck dropped at 7:45 p.m. with a single-digit wind-chill factor.
It got progressively colder as the night went on.
Benoit Pouliot also scored for the Rangers, who are 3-0 in their history while playing outside. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 30 shots while again adorning pinstriped pads in honour of the Yankees. The only goal he allowed was a late second-period tally to Brock Nelson that gave the Islanders a short-lived 1-0 lead.
The Rangers evened the season series with the Islanders 2-2. The teams will play for the final time this season on Friday at Madison Square Garden.
Wearing a ski cap with a pompom atop his mask, Evgeni Nabokov had 32 saves for the Islanders, who made their outdoor debut. Road teams are 9-1-1 in NHL outside games.
Carcillo fired in a rebound of Dominic Moore’s shot for his third goal of the season, helping drop the Islanders to 0-3-1 in the last four games.
With both teams struggling to control the puck early, it took nearly 39 minutes for the scoreless deadlock to be broken by the Islanders and then 40 seconds for the Rangers to get back even.
The Islanders built up a big lead in shots, but couldn’t get any past Lundqvist—despite getting the first three power plays and a 2-minute stint of 4-on-4 play. When Islanders forward Kyle Okposo went off for holding, and took Rangers forward Rick Nash with him for embellishing with 9:49 left in the second period, the Islanders held a 21-10 edge in shots.
By the time the period was over, the Rangers had cut it to 25-20.
The Islanders grabbed a 1-0 lead with 1:27 left in the second, using a fine three-way passing play to go in front. Cal Clutterbuck managed to fling the puck from the left circle into the middle as he fell to the ice. He connected with defenceman Matt Donovan, who quickly moved the pass to his right to Nelson, who fired a shot past Lundqvist for his 10th goal.
Before the goal was announced to the cheering and shivering sold-out crowd, the Rangers tied it with Pouliot’s ninth of the season.
Derick Brassard did hard work from the back edge of the left post, worked the puck free and slid it in front past the prone Nabokov who was down in the crease. Pouliot gathered it and scored into a fairly open net with 46.3 seconds remaining in the second.
Both teams dealt with a bouncing puck during the scoreless first period, and Islanders forward Thomas Vanek had a puck hop over his stick from right in front of Lundqvist early in the second.
Nabokov was playing in his first full game since returning on Monday from a lower-body injury that forced him to miss 10 games. He backed up Kevin Poulin in a 6-3 loss to Boston on Monday, but came on in relief for the third period and stopped the only shot he faced.
He showed no signs of rust or difficulty playing out in the cold. Nabokov drank from a steaming cup at the bench during a break in the second period.
Lundqvist looked comfortable at the other end, playing on the Yankee Stadium ice for the second time in four days. Since giving up three goals in the first period against New Jersey on Sunday following a pregame nap, Lundqvist allowed just one over the next five frames.
While the Rangers had louder support in the stands, despite this being an Islanders home game, both sides were well represented and occasionally traded chants of “Let’s Go Rangers!” and “Let’s Go Islanders!” There were no visible signs of empty seats, even up in the far reaches of the upper deck that stretch into right-centre and left-centre field.
NOTES: Okposo had a six-game point streak snapped. Nash had a five-game goal run broken. … CeeLo Green performed between the first and second periods. He wore a long fur coat. … The Islanders were 0 for 4 on the power play, including one at the end of the game