UNIONDALE, NEW YORK – In a season already filled with plenty of good fortune, Rick Nash and the New York Rangers found a little bit of luck in their last regular-season visit to the Nassau Coliseum.
Nash scored a deflected goal to break a tie 2:50 into the third period, and the Rangers beat the New York Islanders 2-1 on Tuesday night to inch closer to their biggest rival.
After dropping the first three matchups to the Islanders — including two at home — the Rangers have won two straight on Long Island. The previous meeting was a 6-5 victory in which the Rangers erased a pair of two-goal deficits after falling behind 11 seconds in.
“I thought it was a lot more tighter, obviously, than the last one,” Nash said. “Kind of playoff hockey.”
For the Rangers to come back to Long Island, it will have to be for the playoffs.
All told, the Rangers are 54-63-8-2 on the road against the Islanders.
The Islanders have played at Nassau Coliseum since entering the NHL in 1972.
Kevin Hayes scored the tying goal in the second period, and Cam Talbot made 29 saves to improve to 11-2-3 since No. 1 goalie Henrik Lundqvist went out with a neck injury.
Nash’s team-leading 39th goal was a shot from the right point that caromed in off Islanders forward Ryan Strome.
“It was a real lucky goal,” said Nash, five behind NHL-leading Alex Ovechkin of Washington. “I was thinking about dumping it, and then I saw I could get the blue line.
“I pulled up and I saw three of our guys going to the net. I just shot it anywhere in the direction of the net, and lucky enough it went in.”
The Rangers (41-17-7) are 2-0-1 in their past three games — all on the road — despite scoring only four goals. They trail the Metropolitan Division-leading Islanders by one point, but have four games in hand.
The Rangers, who won 1-0 in overtime at Chicago on Sunday, will play at Washington on Wednesday.
Anders Lee gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead in the first period. Jaroslav Halak made 20 saves in his return to the net after Michal Neuvirth started the previous two. The Islanders (43-22-4) are 2-2-2 in their past six.
“A tough one to lose like this,” Halak said. “We have plenty of hockey left and we need to do a better job.”
Just as in previous matchups, the Islanders again got the jump on the Rangers early, despite playing an overtime game at Toronto on Monday.
“I thought we played better than them,” Halak said.
Lightning 1, Canadiens 0 (OT)
In Montreal, Tyler Johnson scored about a minute into overtime to lift Tampa Bay over the Canadiens in a battle between Eastern Conference leaders.
Johnson took his own rebound and saw the puck go in off defenseman Tom Gilbert’s skate.
Bruins 3, Senators 1
In Ottawa, Ryan Spooner scored his second and third goals of the season and Tuukka Rask celebrated his birthday by stopping 39 shots to help lead surging Boston to the win.
Blues 5, Jets 4
In St. Louis, Barret Jackman scored his first goal in 36 games with 1:03 left, launching a shot from center ice to give the Blues the win.
Kings 5, Avalanche 2
In Denver, Brayden McNabb had a goal and two assists, Jonathan Quick stopped 21 shots and Los Angeles ended Colorado’s three-game win streak.
Stars 2, Flyers 1
In Philadelphia, Vernon Fiddler scored the go-ahead goal late in the third period to lift Dallas.
Blue Jackets 4, ‘Canes 3 (SO)
In Raleigh, North Carolina, Ryan Johansen had the only goal in the shootout.
Wild 6, Devils 2
In St. Paul, Minnesota, Thomas Vanek scored twice, Devan Dubnyk stopped 30 shots and the Wild trounced New Jersey.