In dominating Rangers, Isles make loudest statement of season

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Not only did the New York Islanders beat the red-hot New York Rangers last night, they dominated the red-hot New York Rangers last night.

In Madison Square Garden, no less.

And yes, dominated is the right word. The Isles outshot the Rangers in all three periods, finishing with a 44-27 advantage. Even in the third period, after they’d entered the frame with a 3-0 lead and might have been tempted to sit back and defend a bit, they still put up 12 shots while allowing just six.

Oh, and they managed those 44 total shots with the help of just one power play.

“This was a big game with a lot of media attention, and I thought we played well,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said, per the Associated Press.

“For us, it’s about getting the two points. To play a team that is playing so well, and for them to come off the trip they came off, it gives the guys confidence that they can play against good hockey teams.”

To be sure, there remain questions about this team. The Isles rank 19th in goals-against, for example. While that’s an improvement over where they were after their first chunk of games, is it good enough to be considered a legitimate Stanley Cup contender?

The Isles have also racked up a large share of their wins in close games, going 18-3-1 in one-goal contests while compiling a modest 11-10 record in games decided by two or more goals. Is there an element of luck there? Hey, if we’re asking that question of the Anaheim Ducks, it’s only fair we ask it of the Isles.

Because that, after so many seasons of frustration for their fan base, is where the Isles are at in 2014-15 — right there in the Stanley Cup debate.