NEW YORK (AP) — New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano asked for more than just offense from his top line when they took on the rival New York Rangers.
John Tavares, Thomas Vanek and Kyle Okposo were also being counted on to slow down sizzling Rangers forward Rick Nash.
That plan didn't go so well early.
Nash scored twice in the first period, but the Islanders erased a two-goal deficit for the second straight day and beat the Rangers 5-3 on Tuesday night.
"There was a time during the first period that I was going to probably break that line up," Capuano said, "but I wanted to see how they handled it. I thought they responded as the game went on and did a good job."
Nash didn't do any more damage, Vanek scored the tiebreaking power-play goal with 4:38 left, Tavares had three assists, and Okposo added two as the Islanders won for the ninth time in 11 road games.
The Islanders have won two of the first three meetings with the Rangers. The teams will play twice more in the next 10 days, including outdoors at Yankee Stadium.
"Division games are huge this time of year. It's nice to beat these guys," Tavares said. "They got those two early goals, but I think for the most part we were the better team. We did a good job ... and finished off the game. Big win. Character win."
Vanek capped the comeback as the Rangers were trying to kill a penalty for too many men. Colin McDonald and defenseman Thomas Hickey scored in the second period to get the Islanders even.
Matt Martin scored a rare goal in the first, and Frans Nielsen added an empty-netter. Kevin Poulin made 30 saves in front of a nearly full crowd on a snowy night in New York.
"The secondary guys came up big," Capuano said. "Our top line struggled a little bit in the first, but they came around. Your best players have got to be your best players. We were fortunate with that break with the too many men, but we were able to capitalize."
Nash posted his second straight multigoal game, and Chris Kreider added a goal for the Rangers, who had won three in a row. Cam Talbot made 32 saves while subbing for Henrik Lundqvist, who missed the game due to illness.
It was the first time in eight games the Rangers allowed more than two goals.
"We wanted the two points, and we put ourselves in a good position to get them," Nash said. "We didn't get the job done."
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