Wade Dubielewicz, playing because of Rick DiPietro’s concussion, helped the Islanders stave off playoff elimination by stopping 36 shots, plus three more in the shootout to lead them to a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night. “I’m not going to lie – I’m very excited right now,” Dubielewicz said. “At the same time, I know I have to bring myself right back down to Earth, because we have to do this all over again in 48 hours.
“Don’t feel too good about yourself, because you can’t afford to be relaxed in this situation. I’ll enjoy this one for a couple of hours, and then I’ll put it behind me and get ready for the next one.”
Dubielewicz stopped Michael Nylander, Brendan Shanahan and Jaromir Jagr in the shootout. The save on Jagr’s shot was the best. Dubielewicz made a diving save as the puck just fell short of the goal-line.
“I saw Nylander was going to his backhand, and I like using my stick when I can, so I had the chance to poke it away,” Dubielewicz said. “On Jagr, it seemed like he bobbled it at the last second and he didn’t get off a real good shot like he wanted to.
“I still had to make sure to get on it before it snuck over the line.”
Islanders coach Ted Nolan was impressed with his goalie’s performance.
“He played a great game,” Nolan said. “When you look at the three shooters, those are three world-class shooters.
“The way Dubielewicz played throughout the whole game, plus the shootout, he was sensational.”
Dubielewicz, 28, was able to handle the pressure-filled game.
“You know, it probably worked to my advantage that I wasn’t here all year,” he said. “I didn’t have a week to build up to this game.
“If I had time to think about the build up, I probably would have been nervous.”
Miroslav Satan had the only shootout goal. He beat Henrik Lundqvist with a backhand in close in the first round.
Arron Asham and Alexei Yashin scored for the Islanders, who won the eight-game season series 5-3.
The Islanders needed a win because Montreal and Toronto won. They are four points behind the Canadiens and three behind the Maple Leafs, with a game in hand on both.
Shanahan and Nylander scored for the Rangers in regulation. New York would have clinched a playoff spot with a win, and wound up falling into seventh place as Tampa Bay won. Both teams have 92 points, but the Lightning have more victories (44-41).
“We’re disappointed we didn’t do it tonight,” Shanahan said.
Nolan used the Rangers clinching possibility as a rallying point for his team.
“We talked about that,” Nolan said, “and if they’re going to clinch, let them do it somewhere else. We had to keep our chances alive and get two points.”
Lundqvist stopped 32 shots.
The teams played their fourth straight one-goal game. The Rangers won the previous three, all by 2-1 scores, and two of them in overtime.
Asham gave the Islanders an early lead with his 10th goal of the season, and first in 30 games at 2:52 of the opening period. Moving down the left boards, Randy Robitaille threw a centring pass toward the net that hit Rangers forward Blair Betts and bounced right to Asham, who tucked it in the net.
Asham last scored Jan. 27 when he had two in a 5-3 home victory over Buffalo.
Dubielewicz was busy in the first, stopping 17 shots.
The Islanders took a 2-0 lead at 5:02 of the second period when, on a delayed penalty call, Yashin broke in with Satan on a two-on-one. Yashin’s cross-ice pass was deflected in by Rangers defenceman Jason Strudwick.
Shanahan got the Rangers to within 2-1 at 9:02 on their 24th shot with a short-handed goal.
Sloppy defensive communication between Sean Hill and Brendan Witt in their own zone led to Nylander’s tying goal at 12:52. Jagr picked up the loose puck and quickly crossed it over to Nylander, who quickly flipped the puck high into the net.
The Islanders face Toronto on Thursday night in their final home game. Forward Ryan Smyth said the team has to do the same thing it did against the Rangers all over again.
“Our backs are up against the wall, and will be the next three games,” Smyth said. “We put ourselves in this situation, and tonight, we got ourselves out of it.
“We left it all on the ice tonight, and Dubie won us the game. He always gives you that extra added confidence, and we have confidence in him. We’ve just got to protect the house to – to give him a chance. We battled hard for him, and he battled hard for us tonight.”
Notes: The Islanders won’t be able to use recently signed defenceman Todd Simpson. The NHL announced it will honour the full suspension handed out by the German Hockey League to Simpson prior to signing with the Islanders. Simpson was suspended for a minimum of 12 games for abuse of an official. The NHL said Simpson will sit out the remainder of the 2006-07 season … Yashin extended his point streak to seven games (3-5-8)… Shanahan leads all active goal scorers with 627 … The Islanders won the first four meetings this season, including three at Madison Square Garden.