New York Rangers prospect J.T. Miller was a crowd-pleaser in his stunning Madison Square Garden debut. The 19-year-old rookie tallied twice in the Rangers' 4-1 win over the New York Islanders. Miller's breakout performance helped the Blueshirts pass their rivals in the Atlantic Division standings in the two clubs' first meeting of the season.
Miller time: On his first shift at Madison Square Garden, Miller notched his first NHL goal. The 19-year-old Miller, called up on Monday, beat Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to open up scoring for the Rangers. He notched another -- a much-needed power-play goal -- in the next frame, beating Nabokov five-hole on a breakaway to reclaim the team’s two-goal lead. The Rangers have three more games before they have to decide whether to send him back to the American Hockey league or trigger the first year of his entry-level contract.
Big news: Just hours before the game, the Islanders pulled off a surprising move, acquiring veteran goaltender Tim Thomas in a trade with Boston. But don’t expect to see him splitting time in net with Nabokov anytime soon. The move was one made for the sake of cap benefits for each team -- providing the Bruins some space and the Islanders some help to hover above the cap floor. Thomas has not played this season after announcing via his personal Facebook account that he was taking time off to spend with his family.
More than one JT: Isles star center John Tavares tallied his fifth goal of the second, beating Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist high-glove, to cut the Rangers lead in half, 2-1, at 11:13 in the second.
Captain comeback: Ryan Callahan returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury in a fight during the Rangers’ 2-1 win over the Flyers last Tuesday. The 27-year-old captain missed three games with the shoulder subluxation.
Scratched again: Defenseman Dan Girardi sat out his second straight game Thursday. The 28-year-old blue-liner is “banged up,” according to the team. Before being sidelined, Girardi had played all but two games in the past four seasons.
On the way: Both defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky and forward Josh Bailey are expected to play for the Islanders this weekend, possibly Saturday against the Sabres. Visnovsky, who was suspended for refusing to return from the KHL once the lockout was lifted, arrived on Long Island and passed his medical on Thursday. Bailey is likely to return from a knee injury suffered while playing overseas during the lockout.
Up next: Rangers vs. Lightning, Sunday at 7:30 p.m.