New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders - 1/31/14
New York Islanders (21-27-8) at New York Rangers (29-23-3)
NHL Hockey: Friday, January 31, 2014 at 7:00 pm (Madison Square Garden)
The Line: New York Rangers -173 / New York Islanders +157 --- Over/Under: 5.5 See the Latest Odds
The New York Rangers and New York Islanders took it outside on Wednesday night with the two clubs meeting at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. The conditions were cold but the precipitation held off and we should have had pretty good conditions for a hockey game. Instead it was the choppy ice and both teams inability to really make many plays that ended up being the story of this hockey game. Neither team was able to generate many quality scoring chances throughout the first two periods and despite the fact that the Islanders were getting more shots on goal they weren't all that close to scoring. Finally late in the second period it was Brock Nelson who converted a one-timer right through the legs of Henrik Lundqvist to lift the Islanders to a 1-0 lead. With the way the two teams were playing and the fact that the Islanders scored the first goal it seemed as if that might be all the Islanders would need in this one but instead they coughed up their lead immediately. On the ensuing shift it was Derick Brassard who took the puck behind the net for the Rangers and centered it out in front where Benoit Pouliot found the loose puck and chipped it up over Evgeni Nabokov's shoulder to tie the game just 40 seconds later. The Rangers gained momentum from the tying goal and came out flying in the third. Rick Nash generated a power play opportunity on the opening shift for the Rangers and just a few minutes after it expired it was their fourth line that came through with the deciding goal. Daniel Carcillo buried a loose puck past Nabokov to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead they wouldn't relinquish. Now the two teams head indoors to face off on Friday night at Madison Square Garden where the Islanders rallied from a 3-1 deficit last Tuesday to defeat the Rangers 5-3. It was clear the the Islanders were unable to generate much offensively on the rush and that's a big key to their success. While the quality of the ice at Madison Square Garden is notoriously bad it still should be an upgrade from what the two teams played on Wednesday night so we should see some crisper passes and more scoring opportunities. These two teams kept it pretty cordial with one another in front of a national television audience but there could be some bad blood in this one. The Rangers have started to open up a little bit of a gap in the Metropolitan standings for second place but it won't stay that way unless they keep taking care of their home ice. The Islanders are really in a tough spot now and need to put together a winning streak with some length it they want to seriously be considered a playoff contender. These two teams are the type of rivals who usually split these back-to-back sets but with a chance to keep climbing in the standings and win their third straight I like the Rangers on Friday night.
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports