Final

Series (Game 2 of 6)

New York leads 6-0

Game 1: Thursday, December 4th
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Islanders2
Game 2: Thursday, December 18th
Islanders3Final
Rangers4
Game 3: Saturday, January 10th
Rangers3Final
Islanders2
Game 4: Tuesday, January 13th
Islanders1Final
Rangers4
Game 5: Thursday, February 19th
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Rangers6
Game 6: Thursday, February 26th
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Islanders3

Islanders 3

(13-14-1, 29 pts)

Rangers 4

(12-12-2, 31 pts)

8:00 PM ET, December 18, 2003

Madison Square Garden, New York, New York

1 2 3 T
NYI 1 0 23
NYR 2 1 14

Top Skaters

New York: D. Scatchard - 1 G, 4 SOG, +2

New York: E. Lindros - 2 A, 2 SOG, +1

Messier leads team with 11 goals this year

NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Rangers outplayed their biggest rivals in every way possible, and the New York Islanders knew it.

Mike Dunham turned aside 23 shots, and four Rangers scored in a 4-3 victory Thursday night.

"It was disappointing," Islanders coach Steve Stirling said. "They outskated us, outworked us, and most importantly, outmuscled us."

Petr Nedved, Mark Messier, Matthew Barnaby and Tom Poti scored for the Rangers, who have won two of three. The Rangers lead the all-time series with the Islanders 85-84-19 but had to hold on when the lead was cut to one goal late.

"I don't think we're in a position to discriminate who we're playing," Messier said. "We're not a playoff team for the last few years, so I think we have to take every opponent as a worthy opponent and a valuable two points."

The Islanders, who got goals from Jason Blake, Radek Martinek and Dave Scatchard, continued to struggle on the road. They only have two wins away from Long Island (2-8-2-1).

"Look at most of our (road) games," Islanders captain Michael Peca said. "We get behind early. We're not committed to win enough one-on-one battles."

Garth Snow started his fifth straight game in goal for the Islanders and turned aside 26 shots. It was the Islanders' first regulation loss in six games (4-1-0-1) following a seven-game losing streak.

Snow, who has played well lately, came up with a huge save to keep the game scoreless at 7:35. He dived across the crease and brought his stick up to rob Alexei Kovalev.

The Rangers took a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 10:21. Snow made a glove save on Jan Hlavac, but the puck popped out of his mitt and sat in the crease for Nedved to knock into the open net.

"The last two games (against the Islanders), we've gotten some power play goals," Rangers defenseman Brian Leetch said. "It makes a difference."

Messier made it 2-0 at 16:23. Snow came out to clear a turnover and got knocked over by teammate Eric Cairns. Cairns was in position to block a shot by Dan LaCouture, but the rebound was there for Messier to pick up and push into the open net.

The nearly 43-year old Messier leads the Rangers with 11 goals.

"If it wasn't for Garth in the first, the score would have been 7-0," Peca said.

The Islanders got one back with 67 seconds left in the period when Tom Poti accidentally deflected Blake's shot past Dunham with his skate.

"We just looked nervous or intimidated -- not physically, but maybe the building," Stirling said. "We had no one playing with any kind of jam."

Barnaby restored the Rangers' two-goal lead 26 seconds into the second period when he finished off a spinning backhand pass from Leetch.

Poti boosted the Rangers' lead to 4-1 when he flipped a pass from Eric Lindros past Snow on a power play at 9:39 of the third.

Martinek beat Dunham at 15:39.

With Snow pulled for a sixth attacker, Scatchard put a wrist shot past Dunham with 44.5 seconds left to make it a one-goal game. It was the Rangers' first one-goal victory this season after seven straight losses.

"Yeah, it's never dull," Lindros said. "The parking fees across the street are probably getting a little extra every time we play at home. When we have a lead, everyone will be staying because we can't seem to finish it. But the bottom line is we got the job done."

The Islanders appeared to be finished early, before making their last-minute charge.

"It's getting a little old," Islanders defenseman Adrian Aucoin said. "It's easy hockey when you're three goals down in the third period."

Game notes


Since the first meeting between the two clubs, a 4-2 Rangers victory on Long Island on Dec. 4, the teams went in opposite directions. The Rangers, who had a seven point lead on the Islanders, lost three of their next four games, while the Islanders went 4-0-0-1. ... Islanders G Rick DiPietro dressed as Snow's backup, despite having the flu. ... The Islanders were 6-2-2 in their previous 10 visits to Madison Square Garden. ... Lindros earned his 800th NHL point.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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