NEW YORK -- After the second Stadium Series game at Yankee Stadium Wednesday night, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said no decision had been made on whether or not to expand the six-game outdoor schedule for next season.
Suffice to say the New York Rangers will be among those in favor of playing more outdoor games.
The Rangers completed a sweep of the New York portion of the Stadium Series Wednesday, when left winger Daniel Carcillo scored the tie-breaking goal early in the third period and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made 30 saves in a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders in front of a sellout crowd of 50,027 at a frigid Yankee Stadium.
The Rangers remained perfect outdoors (3-0-0) and are the only NHL team to win multiple games in the outdoor series, which began in 2003.
"We can play through cold, I guess," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said with a grin. "Our guys went down to block some of those shots, I'm going 'Ohhhh, that must hurt a little bit,' because it was, to say the least, very nippy."
The faceoff temperature Wednesday was 22 degrees -- three degrees cooler than Sunday, when the Rangers routed the New Jersey Devils 7-3 -- but the wind chill was in the single digits.
"It was a little cold," Lundqvist said. "But it was awesome again."
Lundqvist and the Rangers played a far more impressive and efficient game Wednesday than they did Sunday, when Lundqvist thought he might get pulled during the Devils' three-goal first period before the Rangers scored six unanswered goals.
"I was definitely more relaxed playing this game," Lundqvist said. "But the way we started the game, it was a lot easier for a goalie to get a good start. We didn't give up any odd-man rushes, we played a smart game."
The Islanders outshot the Rangers 25-20 in the first two periods, bur the Rangers killed off three Islanders power plays in the first 40 minutes and wasted no time responding when Islanders center Brock Nelson scored with 1:27 left in the second.
Nelson's goal had not even been announced in the press box when left winger Benoit Pouliot tied the game for the Rangers 40 seconds later.
"Our response after their score and how quickly we responded really helped us in that third period," Vigneault said.
The Rangers squandered a power play early in the third before taking the lead when Carcillo put back a shot by center Dominic Moore, who generated the opportunity for the Rangers by picking up the puck in the neutral zone and dishing it to center Brian Boyle before Boyle passed it back to him for the initial shot.
The Rangers clamped down defensively in the third, when they limited the Islanders to just six shots -- two of which the Islanders got with the extra attacker in the final minute. Lundqvist preserved the win by turning back a point-blank rebound from left winger Kyle Okposo in the final 10 seconds.
The four points the Rangers (29-23-3) earned at Yankee Stadium kept them in second place in the Metropolitan Division, moved them into a tie for fifth place in the Eastern Conference with Montreal and left them doubly elated with the Stadium Series experience.
"Everything I was hoping for -- I was hoping for two wins, I was hoping for two soldout days and nights (and) just to walk away from this with an awesome experience," Lundqvist said. "We wanted to win these games to be able to look back on it a couple years, couple months, whatever, and just have a smile on your face instead of thinking about the mistakes or the loss."
Likewise, commissioner Bettman was pleased.
"It was simply an incredible two games at Yankee Stadium," Bettman said in a statement, "and I can't thank the Yankees organization and the Stadium crew enough for all of their help and cooperation in making this all possible. I want to thank the Rangers and Jim Dolan: the Rangers obviously like playing outdoors here. I also want to thank the Islanders and Charles Wang.
"When you think about the fact that we've played three Outdoor Games in five days to over 150,000 people, then throw in the Winter Classic and another 100,000 people, it's been an incredible month of special events. To our fans who were here both Sunday and tonight: Simply incredible. I know they had a good time; nobody braves the elements like hockey fans. It was great to see. It was gratifying, and we're thrilled at the response that Yankee Stadium and the New York metropolitan area gave all three teams.
"We play our regular season a little longer, then it's a break to go to the Olympics, and we'll be back with two more Outdoor Games -- one in Chicago and one in Vancouver. This is a season that I think we'll all remember because it's been very, very special."
Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov had 32 saves for the Islanders in his first start since suffering a leg injury on Jan. 6, but the Islanders (21-27-8) still dropped their fourth in a row and remained seven points behind Carolina in the race for the final wild-card spot in the East.
The Islanders have blown a lead three times in their last four games and in 17 of their 35 losses overall.
"We're playing well enough to win," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "But we've got to find a way to win. That is the bottom line."
NOTES: The Islanders had a trio of healthy scratches: LW Eric Boulton, D Matt Carkner and D Radek Martinek. ... D Travis Hamonic, whom the Islanders placed on injured reserve on Tuesday, missed his ninth straight game with concussion symptoms. To replace Hamonic, the Islanders recalled D Matt Donovan from AHL Bridgeport. ... The "home" game for the Islanders marked the third time they hosted a game away from Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders beat the Edmonton Oilers in Oklahoma City on Dec. 13, 1992, and they tied the Buffalo Sabres in Minneapolis on March 18, 1994. ... The Rangers had just one scratch: D Justin Falk. ... The Rangers are the first team to play in three outdoor games. ... The season series between the Islanders and Rangers will conclude Friday, when they play each other at Madison Square Garden. It is the earliest the two teams have ever completed the season series.