Rangers beat Flames in seventh round of shootout
Web linksSteve Zipay's Blue Notes
All the pieces had to be in place for the Rangers to snap a four-game losing streak.
It took two rallies in regulation, a terrific penalty kill in overtime and a seven-round shootout for them to douse the Calgary Flames, 4-3, Sunday night at the Garden.
In the Rangers' first shootout of the season, Benoit Pouliot slid in the winner on a deke and backhanded tuck against Karri Ramo after each team had scored three times. Then Henrik Lundqvist stopped Mikael Backlund as the relieved Rangers finally put an end to a damaging spell at home.
"I was disappointed because we had two chances to close it out and I didn't do it," said Lundqvist, who allowed three goals in the shootout but turned away Jiri Hudler, Sean Monahan, Mike Cammalleri and Backlund before raising his arms to the rafters. "I had a feeling that if we don't win this one, I'm not going to be a happy guy. They also had a chance to win it, so I'm just happy we managed to get the two points."
The Rangers had played only two games past regulation all season, a 3-2 overtime win in Detroit on Oct. 26 and a loss in overtime to the Devils on Dec. 7. And when Monahan chipped a bouncing puck over Lundqvist's glove at 4:44 of the third period for his 10th goal of the season and a 3-2 Calgary lead, it appeared the Rangers might be headed for their fifth straight loss.
But from the doorstep, Chris Kreider tied the score at 12:07 with his eighth goal, backhanding in Derek Stepan's shot from the left side.
Stepan had stopped the bleeding when he beat Ramo at 15:25 of the first period, only 25 seconds after Curtis Glencross put the Rangers down 2-0 for the fourth consecutive game.
"You can feel sorry for yourself and just lay down," Lundqvist said, "but we kept working really hard."
Carl Hagelin said Stepan's goal changed the mood. "I think going into the room, everyone just kind of regrouped, relaxed a little bit and started playing," Hagelin said, "and our emphasis was to play better on the forecheck."
That happened, and Hagelin's wraparound at 7:29 of the second forged the tie. It was his first goal in eight games.
As the Rangers pressed late in the third on the power play, Kreider almost became the goat when he jabbed Chris Butler in the face with his stick, triggering a double-minor that gave the man-advantage to Calgary and an opportunity to deny the Rangers any points at all.
But led by Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi, the penalty kill staved off the Flames for the final 1:56 of regulation and 2:04 of overtime, providing the chance for a shootout win.
"We knew it would decide the game," McDonagh said. "We had to scratch and claw, so it was a big win for us."
Dom Moore, Mats Zuccarello and Brad Richards scored in the back-and-forth shootout before Pouliot's winner, and in the end, the question had to be asked:
Can this rebound mark a turnaround for the Rangers (16-17-1)?
"Right now you have to look at it as baby steps," Lundqvist said. "You can't turn this around right away . . . We know we're a little bit behind right now, but we can only take it 20 minutes at a time right now and try to improve."