Kathy Kmonicek, Associated Press
NEW YORK — Crisis or not, the New York Rangers needed this win.
When your worst skid of the season coincides with a hard charge by the Pittsburgh Penguins that threatens the big lead you've built over the long season, it is hard to keep out the doubt.
The Rangers needed nearly every second Sunday night to beat the New York Islanders 4-3 in overtime, snap a three-game regulation losing streak, and maintain a four-point lead over the surging Penguins, who are closing in on the Broadway Blueshirts atop the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.
Marian Gaborik scored the Rangers' third power-play goal in the dying seconds of overtime for New York, which erased three one-goal deficits and won the opener of a seven-game homestand.
"We talked about how important this one was," Gaborik said. "We had a pretty good game in Chicago (on Friday), but we came up short. Tonight we played a good game."
Gaborik finished it with his team-leading 33rd goal, off an assist from Brad Richards, who scored two of the Rangers' three power-play goals. Brian Boyle also added a goal.
With the Madison Square Garden crowd imploring the Rangers to "Shoot the puck," Gaborik snapped a rising shot over goalie Evgeni Nabokov's right shoulder to win it at 4:54.
The Rangers held a 36-19 shots advantage, but escaped by the slimmest of margins. Henrik Lundqvist kept the game alive with a key stop against Frans Nielsen a couple of minutes into overtime.
Richards has 21 goals and 29 assists in his first season with the Rangers, who will count on his scoring touch to make a deep run in the upcoming playoffs.
"The production sometimes doesn't come, but I just feel better seeing the ice," said Richards, who reached 20 goals for the ninth time. Tonight some things just happened to me and I got rewarded. It gets your confidence up."
That is exactly what the Rangers need overall and on their recently sluggish power play. New York and Pittsburgh both have 14 games remaining, including a matchup at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.
"The thing I like most about it is the way we won," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "You don't want to draw it up that way, but the things that we're going through as a team — even through this game with some of the bounces — just to keep a hold of ourselves and stay with it. We needed every last second to finally win the game."
John Tavares, Matt Moulson and defenseman Andrew MacDonald had goals for the Islanders, who absorbed their second painful loss in two days. They led New Jersey 1-0 with 1:39 remaining Saturday, but gave up a pair of goals 14 seconds apart and lost 2-1.
"This was a very tough loss," said Nielsen, who remained down on the ice for a few moments after Gaborik's winner. "They outworked us when it counted. That's the bottom line. We have to be better. We made some good plays but not enough good plays."
The Rangers had scored only one power-play goal in eight games. They tied it the last time at 3:29 of the third when Boyle tipped Ryan McDonagh's shot from the left point past Nabokov. Boyle's sixth goal snapped a 15-game drought.
The Islanders carried a 3-2 lead into the period after a back-and-forth second in which they scored twice against Lundqvist on seven shots.
Moulson gave the Islanders their second lead of the night at 7:44 of the second with the benefit of a bounce off the glass behind the Rangers' net. The puck caromed back out in front to the left post, where Moulson was stationed. He got just enough of the puck and nudged it off the skate of Lundqvist and in for his 29th goal.
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