Rangers edge Islanders in chilly Yankee Stadium
Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers pictured after an NHL game at Yankee Stadium on January 26, 2014 - by Bruce Bennett
Ten days before the league shuts down its season and sends many of its stars to the Sochi Winter Olympics, the "Big Apple" crosstown rivals met before a sellout crowd of 50,027 on Wednesday.
Rangers goaltender Lundqvist, who will play for Sweden in next month's Olympics, stopped 10 shots in the first period, 14 of 15 he faced in the second and all six he saw in the third period.
The game began at 22 degrees (minus-5.5 Celsius) and temperatures dropped as the night wore on with winds whipping flags atop the iconic Bronx ballpark.
The Islanders opened the scoring with 87 seconds remaining in the second period when Brock Nelson flipped the puck past "King Henrik."
But the Rangers answered only 40 seconds later, left wing Benoit Pouliot finding the back of the net to level at 1-1 after two periods.
Daniel Carcillo gave the Rangers the lead just 4:36 into the third period, beating Islanders netminder Evgeni Nabokov for a 2-1 advantage.
From there, Lundqvist and the Ranger defense blunted every attack the Islanders managed, even when they pulled Nabokov in the dying seconds for an extra attacker.
Lundqvist improved to 19-18 on the season while Nabokov, who made 32 saves, fell to 9-9.
The Rangers took their 29th triumph in 55 games for 61 points, second-best in the Metropolitan Division.
The Islanders suffered their 35th defeat in 56 games, staying last in the Metropolitan Division on 50 points.
The Rangers humbled the cross-river rival New Jersey Devils 7-3 at the ballpark three days earlier, helped by two goals from Mats Zuccarello, the lone player on Norway's 2014 Olympic team currently playing in the NHL.
The Rangers improved to 3-0 in outdoor games, having also won in 2012 at Philadelphia.
Visitors, such as the Rangers were considered in the clash, improved to 9-1-1 in NHL outdoor games.
Islanders left wing Thomas Vanek will serve as captain of the Austrian Olympic squad at Sochi.