OTTAWA — Talk about finding ways to win.
The Rangers were six minutes away from finishing their four-game road trip with a loss Saturday at Canadian Tire Centre, and what would have been a perfectly fine haul of six points. To win, and take home the maximum eight points, well, that would have required something unprecedented.
Chris Kreider scored on a power play to get the Rangers on the board, Ryan Lindgren scored to tie it, and Barclay Goodrow scored the winning goal with 2:03 left as the Rangers rallied for three goals in a 3-minute, 20-second span over the final 5:23 to pull off a stunning 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators and complete a sweep of their four-game road trip.
According to the NHL public relations Twitter account, the victory marked the first time in Rangers franchise history that the club won a game in which it faced a multi-goal deficit in the final six minutes of regulation.
"We didn’t do a whole lot in the first two periods, but we kept it close,’’ Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. "We didn’t play poor hockey, but we didn’t play to the elite level we had to play at. But we kept it close, and sometimes that’s what happens when you keep the game close.’’
It happened because the Rangers’ power play, which had entered the game 2-for-20 on the season, and which had failed to score on its first three attempts Saturday, finally came up big after Parker Kelly was called for hooking K’Andre Miller at 13:48 of the third period. Chris Kreider redirected in a pretty feed from Artemi Panarin at 14:23 of the period to get the Rangers on the board. It was his fourth goal of the season and, in Georgiev’s eyes, was the game’s turning point.
"Yeah, definitely. You feel the momentum change, right after that,’’ Georgiev said.
The goal gave the Rangers some much-needed life, and it was a double blow for Ottawa, which lost goalie Matt Murray to injury on the play. That was key to the Rangers’ comeback, too, Georgiev said.
"When I saw that they were changing the goalies too — unfortunately Murray got hurt . . . for us, it felt like that was a good chance to tie the game, with a cold goalie coming in at the end of the game,’’ Georgiev said. "And luckily, we played great and then got some huge goals.’’
With his team riding three straight wins and having a chance to sweep their first extended road trip of the young season, Gallant took the long view and opted to rest his No. 1 goaltender, Igor Shesterkin, and start Georgiev in the finale of the trip.
The day got off to a rough start when Georgiev was beaten just 41 seconds in by a shot from Nick Paul, and things got worse when Josh Norris doubled the lead with a four-on-four goal 1:04 into the third period.
But after Kreider got them on the board, the Rangers were a different team. They caught a break when Jacob Trouba was penalized for tripping Ottawa’s Tim Stutzle. Stutzle was also penalized for embellishment so the Rangers were in a four-on-four situation instead. And Lindgren tied the score when he crashed the net and jammed in a feed from his defense partner, Adam Fox, at 15:52.
"I don’t know, four-on-four, I just kind of found myself there,’’ Lindgren said. "And obviously a great play by Foxy to kind of beat his guy and then then find me at the net.’’
Gallant was pleased the Rangers – without Ryan Strome (COVID-19 protocol) for the entire trip, and Kaapo Kakko (upper-body injury) for the last three games -- somehow found a way to win all four games on the trip.
"The last game, I thought, was our best game of the trip, in Nashville,’’ Gallant said. "Tonight wasn't as good and clean. But again, we found a way to win late, and it's huge for our confidence. And now we're done with the road trip and now we’ve got to go home and make sure we keep the momentum going.’’