Andrew Copp's OT goal lifts Rangers over Red Wings
DETROIT – When the Rangers took the ice on Wednesday, playing on the second night of a back-to-back against the lowly, out-of-the-playoffs Red Wings, the prospect of a letdown was certainly in play after their big win over the Pittsburgh Penguins the night before.
Instead, the Rangers had the energy to rally from three one-goal deficits and eventually pull off a come-from-behind, 5-4 win in overtime on the strength of Andrew Copp’s goal at 1:34 of the extra five-minute session.
Copp won a faceoff in his own end and the Rangers broke up the ice, with Copp sending a pass to Artemi Panarin (goal, two assists), who returned it for Copp at the left wing post. Copp beat Red Wings goalie Alex Nedeljkovic for his second goal as a Ranger to win it and give the Rangers a sweep of the two-game road trip and their fourth straight win.
“It wasn't pretty,’’ coach Gerard Gallant said about the win. “But the bottom line is you get two big points and we move on.’’
The Rangers got the two points despite goaltender Alexandar Georgiev having a shaky start to the game, in which he gave up two awful goals in the first period, and four goals overall on 26 shots.
“The guys were really good today,’’ Georgiev said. “They bailed me out. Not the best game for me. But they kept scoring every time the other team kept getting the lead.’’
With the victory, the Rangers (44-19-5) opened a three-point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins for second place in the Metropolitan Division. They also reduced their magic number for clinching a playoff spot to six points with 14 games remaining.
The Rangers got the first goal of the game, from Ryan Reaves, who was playing his second straight game as a replacement in the lineup for the injured Ryan Strome, out with a lower-body injury. Reaves was trying to pass across the crease to a wide open Tyler Motte, but the puck hit a Detroit defender and came right back to him, so he shot the puck and beat Nedeljkovic at 3:23 of the first period for his third goal of the season.
But Detroit tied it at 1 when Michael Rasmussen beat Georgiev with an unscreened shot from the left point that went off the goalie’s stick and in at 9:59. Then, with the Wings on a power play, Jakub Vrana gave Detroit a 2-1 lead at 17:23 on an unscreened wrist shot from the top of the right wing circle.
Chytil got that goal back 11 seconds later when he tipped in a shot by Patrik Nemeth to make it 2-2 going into the second period.
“It definitely helped that the score was 2-2 after the first period,’’ Georgiev said. “The game is tied and you can approach it as 0-0 again.’’
Twenty-nine seconds into the second period, however, Detroit took a 3-2 lead on a power-play goal by Tyler Bertuzzi. Gallant said he never thought of pulling Georgiev, who had allowed three goals on 10 shots at that point. And Panarin tied it 3-3 at 12:15 of the second period, coming off the bench and driving to the net to finish a feed from Frank Vatrano from behind the goal.
Adam Erne’s goal at 5:56 of the third period put the Rangers behind again, 4-3, but Chris Kreider’s 46th goal of the season, at 16:22, tied it 4-4 and forced the overtime. Kreider’s goal was his NHL-leading 24th power-play goal, which tied him with Jaromir Jagr for the Rangers’ single season franchise record for power-play goals.
Panarin was asked about the Rangers’ penchant for comeback victories this season. Wednesday was their 24th.
“We have lots of games going like that for us this season,’’ said Panarin, who has 18 goals and 62 assists this season. “And that gives us confidence. But we can't play like that for the more important games that are coming … You can’t always do that. So we'll have to play better at the start of games.’’