Henrik Lundqvist stopped 35 shots and made coach John Tortorella's decision to bench a pair of veteran players look smart as the visiting New York Rangers snapped a five-game losing streak last night with a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders.
Ryan Callahan scored a pair of goals and added two assists, Marian Gaborik had his NHL-leading 24th goal and two assists, and Michal Rozsival and Vinny Prospal had two assists each to help the Rangers salvage a split of the home-and-home series.
If not for Lundqvist's 14 stops in the first period and shaky goaltending from the Islanders' Dwayne Roloson, it likely wouldn't have happened.
The Rangers had scored two goals or fewer in seven straight games and 17 of the previous in 21 contests. During their 1-6-2 skid before yesterday, the Rangers netted only 15 goals. New York hadn't had more than three goals since beating Columbus 7-4 on Nov. 23 - 10 games earlier.
Callahan and captain Chris Drury scored in the first period, Callahan added his second power-play goal of the night in the second, Gaborik converted during a 5-on-3 advantage in the third, and Artem Anisimov closed the barrage on the beleaguered Roloson with an even-strength tally.
The only blemishes for Lundqvist were defenseman Andrew MacDonald's first NHL goal 9:31 into the second and a goal by Frans Nielsen with 4:46 left.
Following the Rangers' 2-1 loss at home to the Islanders on Wednesday, Tortorella angrily criticized his club's performance that started with a first period in which the Rangers trailed 1-0 and were outshot 10-3. Tortorella responded by benching defenseman Wade Redden and forward Ales Kotalik for the rematch.
In other games:
* At Montreal, Mikko Koivu broke a first-period tie with a power-play goal, and Niklas Backstrom made 30 saves, leading Minnesota to a 3-1 victory over the Canadiens. Robbie Earl opened the scoring early in the first, and Koivu restored Minnesota's one-goal lead later in the period with his 10th goal, tying Andrew Brunette for the team lead. Cal Clutterbuck added his sixth goal in the third. Andrei Kostitsyn scored for Montreal.
* At Calgary, Miikka Kiprusoff had 34 saves, and Dion Phaneuf and Nigel Dawes scored in the Flames' 2-1 win over Los Angeles. Corey Elkins scored for Los Angeles midway through the third.
* At Edmonton, Patric Hornqvist scored two goals and had an assist to help Nashville beat the Oilers, 6-3. Ryan Jones, Joel Ward, Marcel Goc and Jerred Smithson also scored for Nashville. Robert Nilsson had two power-play goals for Edmonton, and Lubomir Visnovsky also scored.
* At Columbus, Robert Lang stayed perfect in shootouts this season, scoring the winner to give Phoenix a 2-1 victory over the Blue Jackets. Shooting third after each team scored a shootout goal, Lang improved to 2-for-2 in tiebreakers this season when his wrister beat Mathieu Garon.
* At Detroit, Jimmy Howard had 30 saves for his first NHL shutout in the Red Wings' 3-0 victory over Tampa Bay. Drew Miller, Todd Bertuzzi and Patrick Eaves scored for Detroit, and Brian Rafalski had two assists. But the Red Wings lost yet another player when center Henrik Zetterberg left the game because of an upper-body injury with 1:43 left in the first period after a crushing hit by Tampa Bay's Mattias Ohlund.
* At Atlanta, Rich Peverley scored his second goal of the game only 1:16 into overtime, and Ondrej Pavelec stopped 42 shots to help the Thrashers beat Dallas, 6-5. Loui Eriksson scored for the Stars with only 1:12 remaining in regulation for a 5-5 tie to force the extra period. Peverley's winner came on a tip-in. He also scored a shorthanded goal in the third period.