New York Rangers' J.T. Miller, left, scores a goal past New York Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov, right, during the second period of the NHL hockey game in New York, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Thursday, February 07, 2013 9:44 pm
Miller scores 1st 2 goals, Rangers beat Isles 4-1
By IRA PODELLAP Sports Writer
Miller, who won't turn 20 until March, gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead just 1:29 in and then pushed their advantage to 3-1 in the second period with a rare power-play goal for the club. Marian Gaborik also scored, defenseman Marc Staal had two assists and Ryan McDonagh added an empty-net goal to give the Rangers their second win in three games.
New York lost in Miller's NHL debut Tuesday at New Jersey.
The Rangers have an eight-game winning streak over the Islanders at Madison Square Garden, outscoring them 35-11.
New York (5-5) entered with 20 goals, tied for fewest in the NHL, but scored more than two for just the second time in five games. The Rangers connected for only the fourth time this season in 37 power-play opportunities - the worst percentage in the league.
The Islanders' struggles on the power play continued as they went 0 for 5. They have failed in 19 straight chances over three games after starting the season 9 for 24.
Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves as he started for the ninth time in the Rangers' 10 games this season. It was his first win in three outings. The Rangers also welcomed back captain Ryan Callahan, who had missed three games because of a shoulder injury nine days earlier.
John Tavares scored his fifth goal of the season in the second period to cut the Islanders' deficit to 2-1, but they dropped their third straight after a 4-2-1 start. Evgeni Nabokov stopped 21 shots just hours after the Islanders acquired veteran goalie Tim Thomas from the Boston Bruins.
The 38-year-old Thomas has no intention of playing this season - the last year of his contract - and has been under suspension by the Bruins for failing to report to the club.
Miller started the scoring early with a snap shot from the lower left circle that beat Nabokov. Gaborik made it 2-0 with 5:56 left in the first period when he was left alone in front for a perfectly placed drive that produced his sixth goal of the season.
Tavares brought the Islanders within a goal 11:13 into the second period with a rising wrist shot from the right circle that eluded Lundqvist's glove, but Miller struck again with 1:49 left in the period when he got by the defense and came right in on Nabokov.
Miller, the Rangers' first-round pick in 2011, had two shots in 14 minutes, 25 seconds of ice time Tuesday in his debut.
NOTES: The Islanders will send a conditional second-round draft pick to the Bruins either next year or in 2015, depending on if Thomas ever plays for New York. ... The Rangers benched forward Brian Boyle to make room in the lineup for Callahan. Coach John Tortorella was critical before the game of Boyle, who has one assist, a minus-3 rating and 11 penalty minutes this season. ... The Rangers went 1-2 without Callahan. ... D Lubomir Visnovsky passed a physical and was activated from the suspended list by the Islanders after he didn't report to the club to start the season. He wasn't in the lineup. ... The Rangers were caught with too many men on the ice for the fifth time this season, the fourth in four home games.