Rangers beat Islanders, tie Flyers for Atlantic lead

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) -- Kevin Weekes got a lot of help from his

teammates in a rare start in goal for the New York Rangers.

The 30-year-old backup made 23 saves for his first victory in

nearly eight weeks and the rest of the Rangers got in front of a

lot of other shots in a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders on

Thursday night.

"The guys really tried to pick me up," Weekes said. "We have

a lot of character guys on this team and they were very vocal.

Heck, they were sacrificing their faces to block shots for me


With rookie star Henrik Lundqvist seeing most of the action in

goal for the Rangers, Weekes started for the first time in eight

games and the second in the last 17. He improved to 9-8-2 with his

first victory since Dec. 10 in St. Louis.

"I'm very happy for him. He works very hard and practice and is

a great, great guy," said Martin Straka, who scored on a penalty

shot and had two assists.

On the penalty shot, Straka fired a wrist shot under Rick

DiPietro's left arm to make it 4-0 midway through the second

period. The Czech forward was awarded the penalty shot after

defenseman Joel Bouchard grabbed him from behind on a breakaway.

"That was just a complete hockey game," Straka said. "All

four lines played well. Plus, we had a good start and that's so


Jaromir Jagr and Steve Rucchin each had a goal and an assist and

Fedor Tyutin and Martin Rucinsky added power-play goals to help the

Rangers tie Philadelphia for the Atlantic Division lead with 70


Weekes didn't face a shot in the first 10:57 and needed to make

only four saves in the opening period. In the Islanders' 5-4 home

victory over the Rangers on Oct. 19, Weekes allowed goals on the

first three shots he faced.

"To come and play here and play well was important," Weekes

said. "Being able to contribute to a win is the big thing for


Mark Parrish scored twice for the Islanders in the third period,

beating Weekes on a power play at 3:14 and on an even-strength tip

at 9:19.

"They were working hard to get in the shooting lanes," Parrish

said. "That's the best I've seen a team block shots in a long

time. We didn't match their work ethic.

"They're a good team from top to bottom. They can roll out four

lines and six defensemen and all of them play hard. You have to

give them a lot of credit. ... Ricky played hard. He kept us in the

game when we had no right to be in it."

Coming off a 3-1 home victory over Pittsburgh on Wednesday

night, the Rangers snapped the Islanders' winning streak at three

with their third straight victory in the series. The Islanders, 21

points behind the Rangers in the standings, are 5-4-1 since interim

coach Brad Shaw replaced Steve Stirling.

"We seemed tentative," Shaw said. "It did surprise me. I

thought we were ready to go. We didn't compete as hard as we should


Jagr had the lone goal for the Rangers in the third, connecting

with 3:09 left off a nice passing play with linemates Michael

Nylander and Straka. Jagr leads the NHL in scoring with 78 points

on 34 goals and 44 assists.

"I don't want to take anything away from them, but even when

they scored those two goals, we were still in control," Jagr said.

"When you play the game, you just know."

Tyutin and Rucchin scored power-play goals late in the first

period, and Rucinsky made it 3-0 with an even-strength goal 2:16 in

the second period.

On Rucinsky's goal, DiPietro stopped Rucchin's wrist shot from

the top of the left faceoff circle, but the puck ended up behind

the goalie for an easy tap-in.

"That goal was awful," DiPietro said. "It hits my glove, hits

my mask, goes off my shoulder, goes off my stick and goes in."

The Rangers' Colton Orr bloodied Eric Godard's nose in a long

fight midway through the first period. They started throwing

punches moments after returning to the ice following roughing

penalties. Orr was in the Rangers' lineup for the first time since

Dec. 28, also against the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.

Game notes
Islanders center Kevin Colley had surgery on his broken

neck Thursday and will be operated on again next week. He broke the

fifth cervical vertebrae in his neck Tuesday night against

Washington when his head slammed into the boards. The team recalled

Jeremy Colliton from Bridgeport of the AHL on Wednesday to fill in

for Colley. ... Straka is 3-for-7 on penalty shots in his career.

... Islanders defenseman Alexei Zhitnik missed the game because of

an ankle injury. John Erskine took Zhitnik's lineup spot against

the Rangers. ... Parrish has 21 goals, 12 on the power play.