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Rangers beat Coyotes in shootout

New York Rangers' Erik Christensen (26) scores on

New York Rangers' Erik Christensen (26) scores on Phoenix Coyotes goalie Jason LaBarbera (1) during the shootout. (Dec. 16, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

It was the moment that you could sense the Rangers' fortunes had shifted.

The Coyotes led by two goals late in the second period last night and were on a power play when goaltender Jason LaBarbera hesitated. Brandon Prust didn't.

LaBarbera skated to his left to play Dan Girardi's clearing pass but decided he couldn't make the play and began to retreat. Prust raced in, scooped up the puck, circled to the net and put it past the former Rangers netminder with six seconds left.

"I knew he was having trouble getting to it," Prust said of his third shorthanded goal, a huge turning point in the Rangers' 4-3 shootout win at Madison Square Garden. "I knew he was going to take a penalty or I was going to be on the puck."

Rookie Derek Stepan also was on the puck, firing Chris Drury's rebound past LaBarbera at 14:17 of the third to tie it at 3. Erik Christensen scored the lone goal of the shootout to cap the comeback and give the Rangers their 20th win of the season.

LaBarbera's gaffe mirrored the mistake by an initially rusty Martin Biron, who allowed a goal on the first Coyotes shot at 1:27. Biron, who hadn't played since being pulled against the Islanders on Dec. 2, skated behind the net on a long dump-in with Brian Boyle in the penalty box, but the puck took an odd bounce off the boards. Taylor Pyatt pounced and slid it under the not-so-quick-to-recover Biron. "It was a mistake," Biron said. "It hit the inside of my leg. If I hadn't been there, it might've slid by."

Biron never saw Adrian Aucoin's 45-foot screened shot that deflected off his glove to make it 2-0 at 5:53, but he did hear the chants of "Hen-rik, Hen-rik."

"Dru [Chris Drury] skated by and slapped me in the pad and said, 'Show them what you've got,' " Biron said. "I felt pretty good that the captain skated by and gave me a vote of confidence. That helped me a lot to get back in the game."

Biron (30 saves) recovered, allowing only a power-play goal by Martin Hanzal alone in the slot.

In the shootout, he stopped Lee Stempniak and Radim Vrbata. On the third attempt, Biron stayed patient, tracked Eric Belanger to his right, denying any angle, and Belanger lost the puck as the Garden fans roared.

John Tortorella chose not to start Henrik Lundqvist, who allowed just one goal in the two victories over Pittsburgh and Washington, because he wanted Biron to see some action.

"I look at Marty Biron as a capsule of how we play," Tortorella said. "He battled. There were people chanting for Hank. That's a hard thing. I couldn't be happier for Marty Biron. He fought through a lot of stuff to make it happen."

With their third straight win, the Rangers (20-13-1) improved their record in the second games of back-to-backs to 9-0.

"We just choose to play hard every night," said Drury, who won the faceoff that led to Stepan's first goal at the Garden. "We know if we keep doing that, good things will happen."


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