J.T. Miller had a dazzling Madison Square Garden debut and Henrik Lundqvist delivered a strong performance between the pipes as the New York Rangers came through with a 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders
Miller, a 2011 first-round pick playing in just his second NHL game, scored his first two career goals to help the Rangers rebound from Tuesday's 3-1 loss at New Jersey while handing their slumping crosstown rivals a third consecutive defeat.
"Obviously it was nice for me, but even better we got the win on home ice and a big bounce-back from last game," said Miller.
Marian Gaborik and Ryan McDonagh added goals to back a 27-save effort from Lundqvist, with McDonagh also notching an assist and Marc Staal contributing two helpers to the win.
John Tavares netted the lone goal for the Islanders, who made headlines prior to the game by acquiring the rights to idle goaltender Tim Thomas in a trade with the Boston Bruins.
The Isles dealt a conditional future second-round choice for the 38-year-old former Vezina Trophy winner, who is currently sitting out the season in order to spend time with his family in Colorado. The Bruins will receive the pick only if Thomas reports to his new team.
Evgeni Nabokov, the Islanders' current starting netminder, stopped 21-of-24 attempts in the setback.
"It seems like sometimes we are satisfied to be in close games, but there's enough talent in here to work hard and win games," said Nabokov. "We need to start better, and that starts with me and it goes along the line with everybody. That's the bottom line."
It didn't take long for Miller to impress the home crowd. Just 1:29 into the contest, the 19-year-old pounced on a loose puck that Islanders defenseman Mark Streit misplayed and broke loose down the left side before firing a shot over Nabokov's shoulder for a 1-0 Rangers' lead.
"Obviously [for] a young kid like that to come in -- and not only his goals," said Lundqvist of Miller. "I think he plays so mature out there, making good decisions with the puck, It's important. It definitely brings some energy to the group."
Gaborik made it a two-goal cushion with just over six minutes left in the opening period, when the sniper wristed a rebound off a Staal blast off the right post and in for his sixth tally of the season.
Tavares would get the Isles on the board near the midway mark of the second period, with the former No. 1 overall pick beating Lundqvist glove-side on an odd-man rush to cut the visitor's deficit in half.
Lundqvist kept the Rangers in front by stoning Michael Grabner on a shorthanded breakaway attempt near the end of the frame, however, and Miller restored the two-goal advantage just seconds later after the Blueshirts won the resulting faceoff.
The rookie split two Islander defenders after taking in a feed from McDonaugh and snapped the puck into the right corner of the net to put his team up 3-1 with 1:49 remaining in the second session.
Lundqvist made the lead stand by coming up with 10 saves in the third period, with McDonagh putting the finishing touches on the triumph with an empty-net goal with 2:08 left to play.
Rangers captain Ryan Callahan returned to action following a three-game absence caused by a shoulder subluxation in a Jan. 29 matchup against Philadelphia, but defenseman Dan Girardi sat out a second straight contest due to a lower body injury ... The Islanders are now 0-7-1 in their last eight visits to the Garden since a 3-2 overtime win there on Dec. 26, 2009 ... Rangers center Brian Boyle was a healthy scratch for the first time since the 2009-10 season. He had played in the team's last 174 regular-season tests ... The Islanders reinstated suspended defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who rejoined the team Thursday after initially intending to remain in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League following the lockout, though both he and fellow blueliner Matt Carkner (lower body) did not play ... Miller's second goal was only the fourth in 37 power-play chances for the Rangers, who entered the game last in the league with the man advantage.