New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Thomas Vanek's power-play goal with 4:38 remaining capped a New York Islanders' comeback that sent the rival New York Rangers to a 5-3 loss Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
The surging Islanders trailed 3-1 deep into the second period before erupting for four answered goals to rally for their seventh win in nine games. Vanek and Frans Nielsen each scored once and assisted on another, while John Tavares registered three helpers in the come-from-behind triumph.
Matt Martin, Thomas Hickey and Colin McDonald added goals and Kevin Poulin came up with 30 saves, 13 of which came in the final period, to help the Islanders prevail.
"We're a resilient team," said Hickey. "It comes down to the third period and if you win the third period, you win the game. [A bad start] is not a trend we're looking to continue, but it's good to know that we can be down and still be able to come back."
The Rangers had a three-game win streak stopped despite a pair of markers from Rick Nash and a one-goal, two-assist night out of Chris Kreider. Cameron Talbot, subbing for an under-the-weather Henrik Lundqvist, halted 32-of-36 shots.
After goals by Hickey and McDonald drew the Isles even at 3-3 entering the third period, the visitors capitalized on a costly Rangers penalty for too many men on the ice to move in front for the first time of the evening.
Nielsen's pass from the point was alertly redirected by Tavares right to Vanek, who slid a shot under Talbot's left skate for a 4-3 edge.
"I was in the right place at the right time," said Vanek afterward.
Poulin made the lead stand with strong work down the stretch, and Nielsen sealed the victory by forcing a turnover and skating nearly the length of the ice for an easy empty-netter with 6.1 seconds left.
"Obviously their top line had quite an evening," said Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault. "It was I thought a hard-fought battle by both teams, but at the end of the day we made a couple of mistakes and they made us pay."
The Islanders finished the contest better than they began it, as Kreider won a battle for a loose puck dumped into the opposing zone in the opening minute and sent a drop pass that a streaking Nash buried home a mere 62 seconds in.
Nash scored on a breakaway later in the first period, slipping behind the Islanders' defense to collect Kreider's outlet give before stuffing the puck under Poulin's right pad to stake the Rangers to a 2-0 advantage.
The Islanders were able to cut the deficit in half prior to the conclusion of the frame when Martin raced in from the bench to one-time a Tavares feed past Talbot 2:38 prior to the intermission.
Martin was sent off for roughing near the midway mark of the second period, however, enabling the Rangers to restore a two-goal differential on the resulting power play. Derek Stepan ripped a shot that struck the left post and got behind Poulin, with Kreider right on the doorstep to tap it in for a 3-1 Rangers' lead.
The Islanders roared back by striking twice within a span of just over three minutes. Hickey cut to the net to convert a well-placed centering feed from Kyle Okposo and McDonald scored the equalizer, which came on the rebound of a Tavares attempt during a transition rush.
Nash now has amassed nine goals in his last nine games and lit the lamp five times in his past three ... Vanek has three goals and five assists during a six-game point streak, while Nielsen has logged an assist in five consecutive outings ... The Rangers lost for only the fifth time (21-4-1) in 26 games this season when scoring first ... With Lundqvist unavailable, the Rangers signed goaltender David LeNeveu Tuesday to serve as Talbot's backup ... The two city foes will square off twice more in the next 10 days, including a matchup at Yankee Stadium as part of the NHL's Stadium Series on Jan. 29.