Ryan McDonagh caps Rangers' comeback with OT game-winner
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It's how you finish that counts. For breaking two club records for goaltending -- wins and shutouts -- Henrik Lundqvist was feted in a pregame ceremony at the Garden Monday night and given a commemorative mask and a custom-made guitar.
But at the end of the night, defenseman Ryan McDonagh -- who scored on a rebound in front at 1:56 of overtime to give the Rangers a 4-3 win over the Coyotes and added two assists in a massive 29:16 on ice -- stole the show and was awarded the Broadway Hat as game MVP.
McDonagh's career-high three points gave him 12 points in 12 games. He hit the 40-point mark for the first time in his career as the Rangers won their fourth straight game.
The comeback in a game in which they had never led allowed them to seize second place in the Metro Division with 84 points, one ahead of the Flyers, who visit Madison Square Garden Wednesday night.
McDonagh's first-pair partner, Dan Girardi, scored with 3:28 left in regulation. He tipped McDonagh's point shot past backup Thomas Greiss, who had replaced injured starter Mike Smith with 7:42 remaining, to tie the score at 3.
"The legend grows," Brad Richards said. "They just did a great job of moving around. It causes confusion for the other team. They don't expect them to be around the net."
Nor did anybody expect the Rangers to be down so quickly after Lundqvist kissed his parents, wife and baby daughter and hugged Mike Richter and Ed Giacomin on a blue carpet before a video tribute.
"It was hard," Lundqvist said. "You see your mom crying . . . and then [during the game] you keep telling yourself different things. The whole day I tried to focus on the game."
The Coyotes didn't take long to strike. With Rick Nash off for tripping at 4:11, Oliver Ekman-Larsson zipped around Brian Boyle and beat Lundqvist on the short side from the right circle at 4:40. Former Ranger Jeff Halpern made it 2-0 at 8:22, sliding a pass from Kyle Chipchura inside the far post.
"We were not as high as we usually are emotionally and physically; it took us a while to get going," said coach Alain Vigneault, who was missing two of his top six forwards, Derek Stepan and Martin St. Louis, who dressed but were dragging with the flu. "I thought our second period was real good and in the third, we found a way to tie it up. Says a lot about the group."
Richards scored his first goal in 11 games on a tip of Carl Hagelin's shot in traffic at 6:10 in the second period. Derick Brassard's rebound of his own blocked shot, fired high from the lower right circle past Smith's glove at 10:53, tied it at 2.
Chipchura was credited with the goal that provided a 3-2 lead when his centering pass hit the stick of backchecking Chris Kreider and went through Lundqvist at 16:51 of the second.
Then the defense duo attacked and snagged two unlikely points. "I came off the wall, made my way to the net and just kinda stood there. Luckily it went off my stick," Girardi said. "Other than Mac, there hasn't been too much scoring from the back end. We need to do that more often."