Rangers, Islanders kick off rivalry on Long Island

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The Battle of New York continues tonight on Long Island, as the Rangers and Islanders resume their rivalry at Nassau Coliseum.

For the Rangers, tonight's test marks the club's first game of the year in North America, although the club will have to wait until Oct. 27 to play in front of their home fans at Madison Square Garden.

The Blueshirts were one of four NHL teams to begin 2011-12 with two games in Europe and they were the only one to play both contests in the same city. Unfortunately, the Rangers failed to pick up a win in Stockholm, Sweden, dropping a pair of games after regulation.

The Islanders, meanwhile, have played three tests so far on a season-opening, four-game homestand and they have won two in a row after starting the year with a shutout loss to Florida.

The club's most recent victory came in Thursday's 5-1 drubbing of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

John Tavares had two goals and two assists in the first period to lift the Isles to the easy victory over the Bolts. The other two members of New York's top line -- Matt Moulson and P.A. Parenteau -- both contributed a goal and an assist for the Islanders.

"I think we're just building off of what we had last year," Tavares said of his line's chemistry. "We had a good training camp together so we're starting to feel more comfortable with each other and we just want to continue it."

Michael Grabner added the other goal for New York and Al Montoya was solid in net, stopping 34-of-35 shots.

Montoya has started all three games for the Islanders this year and has stopped 81-of-85 shots along the way. Isles head coach Jack Capuano will likely use Montoya again tonight over backup Evgeni Nabokov.

In other news, the Islanders announced on Friday that goaltender Rick DiPietro has suffered a concussion and will be out indefinitely. The 30-year-old veteran, who has battled numerous injuries throughout his tumultuous 10-year career, was hurt in practice on Wednesday when teammate Brian Rolston hit him in the mask with a shot.

DiPietro, who was selected by the Islanders with No. 1 overall pick in 2000, is in the sixth year of a mammoth 15-year contract.

The Rangers were dealt an overtime loss by Los Angeles to begin the season and then dropped a shootout decision to Anaheim. Swedish goaltender Henrik Lundqvist failed to get a win for the Blueshirts in his home country, but the Rangers netminder did stop 54-of-58 shots over the two games.

Brad Richards -- New York's big offseason signing -- had a goal and an assist to lead the Rangers in offense over the first two games.

Rangers winger Wojtek Wolski suffered a groin injury in the season opener against LA and then sat out the game against Anaheim. He returned to practice on Friday, but is still questionable for this evening's tilt.

Wolski played in 73 combined games with Phoenix and the Rangers last year and compiled 12 goals and 23 points.

The Rangers will also be without defenseman Michael Sauer tonight after he suffered a shoulder injury in Europe. Sauer joins fellow blueliner Marc Staal (concussion) on the shelf and with those injuries the Rangers are expected to give Jeff Woywitka his first start with the Blueshirts. Woywitka, who has played in 251 NHL games with St. Louis and Dallas, was claimed off waivers Wednesday from Montreal.

After tonight's test, the Rangers will head to Western Canada to play Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg. Once that swing is completed the club will finally get to play its opener at MSG against Toronto.

The Rangers won four out of six meetings with the Isles last year, giving the Blueshirts seven wins in the last 10 encounters between the teams. The Islanders have also lost eight of their last 11 home games in this series.