Jaroslav Halak #41 of the New York Rangers defends the...

Jaroslav Halak #41 of the New York Rangers defends the net in the second period against Andrew Mangiapane #88 and Jonathan Huberdeau #10 of the Calgary Flames at Madison Square Garden on Monday, Feb. 6, 2023 in New York City. Credit: Jim McIsaac

As they began the post-All-Star break portion of their schedule Monday at Madison Square Garden against the Calgary Flames, the Rangers were gearing up for a playoff push in which they will play 33 games in 67 days to close out the season.

The first game in that journey had a little bit of everything: goals, goaltending, three fights and a large dose of controversy. In the end, Alexis Lafreniere won the race to collect the rebound of a shot by Mika Zibanejad and shot it into a vacated net at 1:37 of overtime to give the Rangers a thrilling 5-4 victory.

“It was kind of a full-ice two-on-one, and I was looking for Mika,’’ said Lafreniere, who took off down the right side before passing to Zibanejad in the middle. “And then the rebound came in front and I just tried to shoot on goal. I wasn’t really looking where I was shooting, so I’m glad it went in.’’

Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom sprawled to stop Zibanejad’s shot and tried to dive to his left to make the save on Lafreniere but was out of position. As the Rangers celebrated, Markstrom smashed his stick into the right post and then threw it in disgust.

The goal provided a wild finish to a wild game in which Filip Chytil and Zibanejad each scored two goals and Jacob Trouba got involved in two fights. The Rangers (28-14-8) blew a 3-2 lead to start the third period before rallying to force the overtime on Zibanejad’s goal at 12:55 of the third period.

But before they could make it to overtime, the Rangers still needed to kill a tripping penalty to Vincent Trocheck with 2:41 remaining.

“First game back after the break and it was an exciting game, there’s no doubt about that,’’ coach Gerard Gallant said. “It wasn’t a great hockey game, but it was an exciting game.’’

Trailing 3-2 after Zibanejad’s first goal, on the power play, with 14 seconds left in the second period, Calgary tied it on a controversial goal by Andrew Mangiapane at 6:38 of the third. The puck went in off Mangiapane’s skate and goaltender Jaroslav Halak erupted, complaining the puck had been kicked in.

After a lengthy video review, the situation room in Toronto ruled the puck had been deflected in but not kicked in, and the goal stood.

Things got worse for the Rangers when Calgary defenseman Michael Stone beat Halak (28 saves) with a one-time slap shot at 8:41 to give the Flames a 4-3 lead. But Zibanejad’s second goal — he banged in a pass from behind the net by Artemi Panarin — tied it at 4-4.

Chytil, who had recorded four goals and an assist in the three games before the break, opened the scoring at 5:37 of the first period. He took a pass from Kaapo Kakko, entered the Calgary zone on his off-wing on a two-on-one and beat Markstrom.

Blake Coleman jammed one in against Halak at 10:25 to tie it at 1, and then things got physical. Trouba dumped Dillon Dube at the Flames’ blue line and Calgary’s Chris Tanev attacked Trouba. The two fought and Tanev got a roughing penalty in addition to the fighting major, giving the Rangers their first power play of the game at 13:57.

Chytil made it 2-1 at 2:02 of the second, gobbling up the loose puck when Nazem Kadri fanned on a pass in the Rangers’ zone, sprinting the other way on a breakaway and beating Markstrom with another quick shot.

“That was a long way to go on the breakaway, so I knew exactly what I was going to do, and it worked,’’ said Chytil, who had a couple of chances to score his third goal in the overtime before Lafreniere won it.

“I’m very happy for this. I could have had the third in the overtime, but it’s still time and still a lot of work to earn [the hat trick].’’

A penalty for too many men on the ice against the Rangers led to Tyler Toffoli’s power-play goal that tied it at 2-2 at 16:25 of the second period.

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