The New York Rangers can hold off pushing the panic button for at least one more game, thanks to the cellar-dwelling New York Islanders.
Scott Gomez's power-play goal in the second period snapped a tie and gave the Rangers a long-awaited win Wednesday night, 3-1 over the Islanders. Because the Rangers never trailed, there were no repeated calls for the firings of coach Tom Renney and general manager Glen Sather as there were Sunday at Madison Square Garden during a lacklustre 5-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
"These guys want to win badly," Renney said. "They like nothing less than a game like (Philadelphia). Tonight I thought the guys were alert and wanted to win it badly."
The Rangers certainly didn't break out of their offensive funk, nor did they cure their power-play ills, but they did enough against their biggest rival to earn their second win in 10 games (2-6-2).
"It is a good feeling. It has been a while since I had this feeling," said Henrik Lundqvist, who made 25 saves. "We played pretty much the same way, we just found a way to score two goals."
The Rangers had two or fewer in eight of nine games, and got to three against the Islanders when Fredrik Sjostrom hit an empty net in the final minute.
Nigel Dawes scored in the first period, and Lundqvist chipped in with an assist for the Rangers, who began the night in a four-way tie for fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Chris Drury had three assists.
It was the Rangers' first regulation victory since they beat Carolina at home on Jan. 27 - the last time Gomez had a goal.
Elsewhere in the NHL, it was: Capitals 4, Canadiens 3 (SO); Blue Jackets 4, Blues 3; Red Wings 6, Predators 2; and Kings 4, Ducks 3.
At New York, Mark Streit had the lone goal, and Yann Danis made 35 saves for the Islanders, who failed to win back-to-back games after snapping their 0-4-1 skid Monday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Islanders have the fewest points in the NHL and only two wins against Atlantic Division opponents (2-13-2).
"Our guys competed, but it would have been nice to come in here and get the win," said Islanders rookie coach Scott Gordon, who has lost four of five with the Rangers. "We certainly knew we were up against a tough opponent that had to make a stand here given their situation. I thought our guys answered the bell."
The Islanders matched the Rangers physical play and stepped it up after defenceman Erik Reitz stuck out his knee and nailed Sean Bergenheim's knee in the second period. Islanders forward Andy Hilbert immediately charged Reitz, and Bergenheim ended up in a fight with Petr Prucha.
Bergenheim briefly left the ice, but later returned. He hopes to play Thursday against Carolina.
"I definitely thought that it wasn't a clean hit," Bergenheim said. "I am really, really lucky that I'm standing here with both of my feet. If it had been a little bit lower, it could have been really bad.
"You don't really want to take nights off against the Rangers so it was good to come back. ... Right now it is hurting."
It took a gift goal for the Rangers to end their power-play woes that lasted parts of 11 games (1-for-35). Gomez got the puck from Drury and raced end to end before releasing a seemingly harmless shot through three Islanders from a few feet inside the blue line. Danis knocked the puck down with his gloves but it sneaked between his pads 7:26 into the second period.
"I don't know how that went in. It is just one of those things," Gomez said. "You shoot the puck, and good things will happen."
The teams traded goals in the first.
Dawes, a healthy scratch on Monday when the Rangers lost 2-1 at St. Louis, took a pass from Drury - from below the goal-line - on the dot in the right circle and sent a one-timer past Danis 5:39 in.
Streit answered less than three minutes later during a shift in which he broke up Prucha's mini breakaway chance with a slash on the Rangers forward's wrist. Blake Comeau threaded a pass to Streit, who cut in and let go a shot as he went to a knee.
The all-star defenceman has 10 goals and a team-leading 39 points in 52 games.
Capitals 4, Canadiens 3 (SO)
At Washington, Alex Ovechkin scored his 42nd goal, helping the Capitals to a 4-3 shootout win over the Montreal Canadiens.
Blue Jackets 4, Blues 3
At Columbus, Ohio, Steve Mason made 21 saves - none bigger than a key stop in the closing seconds - to lead Columbus six games over .500 for the first time in the team's eight-year history.
Red Wings 6, Predators 2
At Detroit, Nicklas Lidstrom and Johan Franzen each had two goals and an assist and the Red Wings got five power-play goals to beat the Nashville Predators.
Kings 4, Ducks 3
At Anaheim, Calif., Anze Kopitar scored on a third-period power play.
Ryan Getzlaf tied it at 2 for the Ducks early in the third period, but Dustin Brown and Kopitar responded with the man advantage.