Isles try to stay hot, extend recent dominance of Rangers

( - The New York Islanders try to match their longest winning streak of the campaign and extend their season-long dominance of the New York Rangers on Monday evening when the two rivals square off on Long Island.

The Islanders, winners of four in a row overall, have outscored the Rangers 13-4 in winning the first three of five encounters this season. They followed up two victories at Madison Square Garden with a home triumph over the Blueshirts on Jan. 27.

Jaroslav Halak has been in net for all three meetings and figures to get the call tonight for the Islanders. He has posted a 1.33 goals against average and .964 save percentage with a shutout versus the Rangers this season.

The Islanders had dropped four in a row at home to the Rangers prior to that meeting and wrap the season series with a contest on Long Island on March 10.

The Isles haven't won four in a row over the Rangers since 2007, but come in one victory shy of their third five-game winning streak of the campaign. That run has them two points ahead of the second-place Pittsburgh Penguins in the Metropolitan Division, with the Rangers four points off the pace and third in the division.

Four-point games by John Tavares and Anders Lee helped the Islanders to a 6-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday. Tavares had two of his club's three third-period goals, and set up two other scores, while Lee had four assists.

Frans Nielsen had the go-ahead goal early in the third period, Josh Bailey notched a pair of markers and an assist, and Halak ended with 34 saves.

The victory extended the Islanders winning streak over fellow Metropolitan Division residents to 11 games in a row. That run began after a loss to Washington on Nov. 28.

"I think every night's a battle," he said. "(Columbus) is a team that gave Pittsburgh all it could handle (in the playoffs). ... For us it's just each period, each game, the focus, the commitment and the passion -- that's how we have to go about our business."

The Islanders conclude a four-game homestand tonight before visiting Carolina on Tuesday. Backup Chad Johnson could get the start versus the Hurricanes.

The Rangers come in on their own impressive run, having outscored their opponents 16-8 in winning the first three of a four-game road trip that ends tonight. That latest victory of the swing came on Saturday, a 5-1 decision over the Arizona Coyotes.

Rick Nash, Kevin Hayes, Marc Staal and Lee Stempniak all scored in the third period, with Nash netting his 35th goal of the campaign that ranks second in the NHL. Chris Kreider added a first-period tally in the Blueshirts' sixth victory in eight games, though they lead the fourth-place Washington Capitals by only one point.

Cam Talbot helped his offense with a 34-save effort, including a penalty-shot stop against Tobias Rieder in the third. His work and the goals by the offense gave head coach Alain Vigneault his 500th career victory.

"I've been very fortunate to coach some real good players and work with great staff and management over the years," said Vigneault, who also tied former Montreal bench boss Toe Blake for 20th on the all-time list in wins. "That's the key to a coach's success."

Talbot has gone 4-1-1 in six straight starts in place of the injured Henrik Lundqvist and is 1-1-0 in his career versus the Islanders with a 2.60 goals against average and .917 save percentage in three meetings (2 starts).

Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle missed Saturday's game with illness.