It was Miller time at Madison Square Garden.
Vancouver goaltender Ryan Miller was absolutely outstanding, stopping 46 of the Rangers’ season-high 49 shots, but J.T. Miller scored on a deft wraparound at the right post with 1:06 left in overtime to lift the Rangers to a 3-2 victory over the Canucks on Tuesday night.
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“We were trying not to let their goalie steal the show,” said J.T. Miller, who conceded that he was just pleased to be on the ice in overtime. “He was unreal. It was a pretty tough angle shot, but I thought maybe I could catch him shortside. I’m not sure he saw the puck (on his initial shot) and it gave me just enough time to go around the net.”
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said he wanted the 22-year-old Miller on the three-on-three because “he was obviously having one of his best games of the year with Step (Derek Stepan) and Kreids (Chris Kreider) and his first shot opened up the goaltender . . . He’s starting to understand the game. In my first year here, I said he needs to figure it out. We’ll he’s figuring it out.”
Miller’s 10th goal capped a furious third period that the Rangers began trailing 2-1 despite outshooting the Canucks 30-17 and ringing the post four times, as they pushed frantically for the tie. The Canucks had no shots on Henrik Lundqvist until Radim Vrbata’s at 11:10.
Finally, Mats Zuccarello redirected a pass from Keith Yandle from the right side in the crease through Miller, who had lost his stick, with 8:14 left in the third. It was Zuccarello’s first goal in eight games and team-leading 17th.
The Rangers (25-16-5, 55 points) are 17-5-2 at home, and they travel to Carolina for their next game on Friday.
Miller, who made 47 saves in a 2-1 shootout win in Brooklyn on Sunday, started building the wall in the first, stopping 17 shots, after Yandle’s slapper hit the post just 22 seconds in. The former Sabres netminder then denied Rick Nash, who later also hit iron and had two assists, and Zuccarello in the first few minutes. He also robbed Viktor Stalberg, on the doorstep, with his right pad, on a rebound of Oscar Lindberg’s shot at 5:07.
There were 10 shots in the first nine minutes, but the Canucks took the lead. Bo Horvat got around Dan Boyle on a rush, curled behind the net with Marc Staal in pursuit and found Sven Baetrschi with Nash a shade too late to cover and it was 1-0 at 9:02, despite the Blueshirts’ pace.
Miller stopped Stepan with his paddle at the right post about 34 seconds into the second. Kreider’s shot from the right side was kicked aside by Miller, but Nash and Stepan were together in front of the left post. Nash got a piece of the puck, and Stepan put it in at 4:18 for the 1-1 tie. It was Kreider’s fifth point in four games.
Then, Emerson Etem, in his first game at the Garden since being traded on Jan. 8, tried a pass from the right side to the far post where a falling Alex Burrows redirected the puck and Lundqvist angrily smashed his stick on the ice in frustration at 16:11. But the Blueshirts didn’t change their game, and emerged with two hard-earned points, thanks to the Rangers’ Miller.
In a happy locker room, Lundqvist found time to praise the play of the other Miller. “You have to give him a lot of credit,” he said. “He stole a point for them.”