TORONTO — Saturday nights in Canada have been good to the Rangers this season.
They’ve won in Ottawa and Montreal, and on Saturday night in Toronto, they cooled down the Maple Leafs, who had won six straight. Tony DeAngelo’s goal 52 seconds into overtime gave the Rangers a 5-4 win.
Toronto’s Auston Matthews missed a wide-open net with 1:12 left in regulation, but he scored his second goal of the game with 53 seconds left to tie it at 4.
In the three-on-three overtime, Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev made a big save on Morgan Rielly near the end of the opening shift. Georgiev thought about freezing the puck behind the net but decided against it. He shoveled it toward Ryan Strome, who had to fight off Mitch Marner to retain possession. Once he did that, he was able to move the puck up to Artemi Panarin, starting a two-on-one rush with DeAngelo. Panarin fed DeAngelo, who scored his eighth goal.
“I was yelling at him not to freeze it,’’ DeAngelo said. “In overtime, if you have one guy in [the defensive zone], you try not to freeze it. I was pretty confident that Stromer could make the play that he did — he kind of just held him off and made a nice play. Maybe they thought it was going to be frozen, I think they kind of stopped. After that, I just joined the rush — that’s kind of the way overtime goes, odd-man rushes, back and forth — Bread [Panarin] makes a great play and I was fortunate to finish it.’’
Hometown boy Strome, who grew up in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, had two goals and two assists — including one on the winner — as the Rangers (19-15-4) came back from the three-day Christmas break to sweep a set of back-to-back games. It was the first time they had won consecutive games since Nov. 23-27.
“I think, going into yesterday’s game [a 5-3 win over Carolina], if we would have said we’d get a split, maybe, or even three points, we would have been happy,’’ Strome said. “But you know, four points in these two nights really changes the look of our season. I think we’re right back in it.’’
When Mika Zibanejad scored at 17:05 of the second period, giving him 15 goals, the Rangers had a 4-2 lead. Pierre Engvall’s goal at 6:22 of the third, a deflection of a slap shot by Tyson Barrie, made it 4-3.
With Brendan Lemieux out with a broken hand, Brett Howden — who had played the previous three games at right wing — got the chance to take Lemieux’s spot on the left wing of the third line. Howden put the Rangers on top at 1:41 of the first period when he came off the bench on a line change, skated directly to the slot, took a pass from Strome and beat Frederik Andersen for his fifth goal. Toronto tied it on a power-play goal by William Nylander at 4:21.
Strome regained the lead for the Rangers at 7:59 largely because of a brilliant play by Panarin, who stole Engvall’s ill-advised pass across the slot and got the puck to Strome at the bottom of the right circle.
Pavel Buchnevich had a chance to put the Rangers up 3-1 at 11:28 of the first period when he was awarded a penalty shot after Barrie hooked him down to the ice from behind while he was on a breakaway. But his attempt to shoot the puck between Andersen’s pads was easily saved.
Strome made it 3-1 at 4:37 of the second when he beat Andersen with a slap shot off the wing. Matthews’ first goal pulled the Maple Leafs within 3-2.