Isles edge Rangers

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NEW YORK – Miroslav Satan scored two goals and the New York Islanders slowed the rival Rangers’ drive to the Atlantic Division title by holding on for a 3-2 victory.

The Rangers have already clinched their first playoff berth since 1997 and are trying for their first division crown since the Stanley Cup-winning season of 1993-94.

Coupled with Philadelphia’s 4-3 victory over Pittsburgh on Tuesday, the Rangers’ lead over the Flyers was cut to three points. New York has three games remaining – including one at Philadelphia on Saturday – while the Flyers will play four in the final week of the season.

Satan gave the Islanders the lead less than 6 minutes in, and stretched the advantage to 3-0 with his team-high 33rd goal during a second-period power play – less than 7 minutes after defenseman Chris Campoli scored.

Rick DiPietro, who made 20 saves Saturday in the Islanders’ 5-0 victory over Washington, lost his bid for a second straight shutout when Michael Nylander brought the Rangers to 3-1 at 3:02 of the third period.

They cut the deficit to one when Petr Prucha scored a power-play goal during a two-man advantage with 7:52 left, but DiPietro held off the charging Rangers – who still had more than a minute remaining with a man advantage and outshot the Islanders 24-6 in the final period, 38-30 overall.

The Islanders didn’t have any shutouts in its first 76 games of the season until they snapped their season-high six-game losing streak Saturday. Since a fourth straight postseason appearance is out of reach for the Islanders, they would like nothing more than to wreck the Rangers playoff plans.

The Rangers came out fast in the opening minute, sparked by the pregame ceremony honoring NHL scoring leader Jaromir Jagr, who broke the club records for goals and points in a season.

They had three shots in the first 60 seconds but recorded only four more in the final 19 minutes of the frame. The Rangers trailed 1-0 to the Islanders at home for the second time in six nights.

There would be no comeback this time like the one on Thursday when the Rangers beat the Islanders 3-1.

Since then, the Rangers struggled to an overtime victory Saturday at Boston – when Jagr netted his Rangers record 53rd goal – and blew a third-period lead in a loss at New Jersey on Sunday.

They only managed another seven shots at DiPietro in the second period.

DiPietro did it on defense and was backed up by the offense of Satan.

In the final minutes, DiPietro extended his glove, blocker and pads to fend off the late rally that almost netted the Rangers the tying goal several times.

Satan scored his first goal with a spin move in front that ended with a shot that slid under the outstretched arm of goalie Kevin Weekes. Campoli netted his ninth goal by knocking in a rebound of Jason Blake’s shot 6 minutes into the second period.

Satan then wristed in a shot from the high slot to make it 3-0 at 12:52.

Nylander scored his 23rd goal on a backhander in front after Jagr threw the puck in front of the net.

Notes: Mariusz Czerkawski was the last Islanders players to score at least 33 goals, when he had 35 during the 1999-00 season. … Jagr had six goals and 12 assists against the Islanders this season.

AP-ES-04-11-06 2139EDT

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