The New York Rangers scored four goals in a frantic third period to rally for a 5-4 victory over their crosstown rivals the New York Islanders on Monday. The Rangers trailed 2-1 after two periods but the late onslaught helped them overturn a season-high three-game losing streak against the lowly Islanders, who had managed three points in their previous two games following a 10-game losing run.
Despite being out-shot 25-15 after 40 minutes, the Islanders still managed to forge a one-goal advantage before the Rangers offence finally got rolling in the third period, much to the relief of the coach Tom Renney. "I got the effort from everybody, we just have to translate that into being a smart team," Renney said. "We nearly got beat because we still made far too many mistakes. "There are still two ends of the rink. They scored four goals. I'm not happy about that."
Petr Prucha scored just 40 seconds into the third period and Michal Rozsival put the Rangers ahead for the first time at 2.08. Blake Comeau then tied the game for the Islanders 27 seconds later but Markus Naslund's goal at 7.12 put the Rangers ahead for good. Nigel Dawes later consolidated the lead before Mike Comrie made it 5-4 with 19 seconds remaining. Prucha was playing for the first time since being dropped for eight games and he responded with one of his best efforts of the season.
"It's tough being out of the line-up for so long, and it was frustrating," Prucha said. "I got the chance to play again and scored, so hopefully I will be in the line-up for the next game." Renney was full of praise for Prucha and hinted he may play more often. "Pete's a battler," the coach added. "That's exactly what you have to do when you get these opportunities." The Rangers wound up out-shooting the Islanders 37-24, with the back-up Joey MacDonald in goal for the Islanders again in place of Rick DiPietro.
The Islanders' first-string goalie returned on Friday after a lengthy absence for the win over Toronto, but suffered a sore groin after the game and has not played in the two contests since. "We scored four goals," MacDonald said. "You should win a hockey game when you score four goals. "We had some bad bounces, bad luck and there is not much you can do about it." Maxim Lapierre recorded a hat-trick as the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Florida Panthers 5-2.
Lapierre, who has seven goals this season, ended the Florida goaltender Craig Anderson's night when his second effort of the contest at 2.40 of the third period gave Montreal a 4-2 lead. He secured his hat-trick with an empty-netter in the dying seconds of the session. Eric Nystrom's short-handed goal midway through the third period helped the Calgary Flames extend their winning run to three games with a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild.
Daymond Langkow also scored and Miikka Kiprusoff turned aside 23 shots for the Flames, while Stephane Veilleux netted for the Wild. Jonathan Cheechoo and Milan Michalek scored, while Evgeni Nabokov turned aside 28 shots as the San Jose Sharks recorded a 3-1 triumph over the Dallas Stars. Ryane Clowe added an empty-net goal with 62 seconds remaining in the third period to seal the win. The defenceman Matt Niskanen scored and Marty Turco finished with 16 saves for Dallas.
Cody McLeod scored two goals and Peter Budaj stopped 25 shots as the Colorado Avalanche thrashed the Nashville Predators 5-1. * With agencies