Rangers beat Isles, clinch playoff spot

April 3, 2008 7:43:00 PM PDT
Jaromir Jagr scored two power-play goals in a 2-minute span of the first period, Henrik Lundqvist stopped 25 shots, and the New York Rangers clinched an Eastern Conference playoff berth with a 3-0 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.The Rangers entered a home-and-home series against their archrivals knowing the Islanders would enjoy nothing more than to derail their postseason plans. Jagr made sure early on that it wouldn't happen.

He connected for goals 1:59 apart against goalie Wade Dubielewicz, and Martin Straka pushed the Rangers' lead to 3-0 at 7:39 of the third. Lundqvist made the offense stand up, earning his 10th shutout of the season and 17th in the NHL.

In 90 career games against the Islanders, Jagr has 58 goals and 81 assists. No one has scored more goals versus the Islanders, and Jagr hasn't taken advantage any team nearly as much.

That had a large chunk of visiting Rangers fans at Nassau Coliseum derisively chanting "Season's Over" to the Islanders, who have long been eliminated from the postseason chase.

The Rangers are fifth in the East and still have their sights on the fourth-place New Jersey Devils and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. New York is two points behind with two games to play, and the area rivals will close the regular season against each other Sunday in New Jersey.

The Rangers are in the playoffs for the third straight year.

It marked the second straight home game for the Islanders that an opponent secured a playoff spot. The Devils got in with an overtime victory Tuesday. New York prevented Pittsburgh from clinching on Long Island last week.

Jagr picked on his favorite opponent, and the Rangers captain needed a total of only 28 seconds of power-play time to post his second two-goal game of the season.

While Bill Guerin was getting settled in the penalty box after being sent off for slashing, Jagr took a pass from defenseman Christian Backman and ripped a shot from the top of the right circle that slammed the right post and caromed in at 13:51.

It looked as though Straka set a perfect screen in front, preventing Dubielewicz from picking up the puck before it clanged behind him.

Jagr made it 2-0 with 4:10 left in the period, and just 8 seconds after Freddy Meyer was whistled for holding. Jagr received the puck inside the right circle and put a shot between Dubielewicz's pads for his 23rd of the season.

That gave the Rangers power-play goals in 7 of 14 chances over four games after a 1-for-30 drought the previous nine contests.

Straka fired a shot that hit Meyer in front and deflected past Dubielewicz to make it 3-0.

The Islanders' best scoring chance came in the third period, when the deficit was still two goals, but Sean Bergenheim's shot at an open left side of the net hit the post.


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