CALGARY----From turnovers to missed assignments to a penalty for clearing the puck over the glass, Ryan McDonagh was a defensive mess all night.
But the second year defenseman erased it all in dramatic fashion when he scored with 1.8 seconds left in overtime to propel the Rangers past the Flames, 3-2.
"I know myself I was trying to be too fancy instead of keeping it simple, but I was able to fight it all off," McDonagh said after the Blueshirts' second consecutive win on this four-game Western trip. McDonagh's second goal of the season came courtesy of a rush down the right side by Brandon Dubinsky as time wound down, a shot off the lively end boards by Dan Girardi, and McDonagh creeping in on the left to beat goaltender Henrik Karlssson.
"There were some problems," said coach John Tortorella. "It has happened quite a bit with Mac, where there's some struggles. He doesn't let it get him down, he fights through it. It's a great experience for him."
On Tuesday, the Rangers (2-1-2) had scored four goals in the third period in Vancouver for their first win of the year. besides McDonagh's clutch shot, it took another stellar effort by the penalty killers---including a shorthanded goal from Brandon Prust, the former Flame who returned here for the first time since a trade in 2009---and the first power play goal in 17 opportunities to get two points at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
With the score tied at 2, the Flames went on their fifth consecutive power play when Jeff Woywitka was whistled for clearing the puck over the glass, a delay of game penalty, with 2:44 left in regulation. But Henrik Lundqvist, with 33 saves, turned back the Flames again to send the game into the extra session. On the other end of the special teams, Marian Gaborik scored his fourth of the season at 4:53 of the first period to set the tone.
"We get a lead, we don't take the first penalty tonight, we were just more consistent as a hockey club," said Tortorella, who shook his head at a shirtless Prust, who was wearing the winning hat, the black fedora that was brought from Europe that Brad Richards awards to the key player after a win, a prize that was bestowed on Lundqvist on Tuesday.
"I settled in after the first shift," said Prust, who scored five shorthanded goals last season, and said the coaching staff in New York is “kind of giving me more responsibility. And with ice time you get more confidence.” With Cory Sarich in the box, a wide open Prust skated into the slot, took Brian Boyle’s pass from behind Karlsson and went high stickside for a 2-1 edge at 13:42.
Last year, the two teams met once, with Martin Biron stopping 31 shots in a 2-1 win at the Garden on Nov. 22. There were four goals in the first period alone last night. During a chippy 20 minutes, the Rangers took the lead twice, only to have the Flames tie the score twice.
Just 58 seconds after Gaborik scored on a setup from Derek Stepan, Dan Girardi mishandled the puck along the left boards and Jarome Iginla slipped past McDonagh at the right post for a tap in of Alex Tanguay’s pass. Then after Prust's score, the Flames responded with a power play goal of their own. Kris Newbury dropped the gloves with Sarich after the defenseman ran Brad Richards---who notched his fifth point on Gaborik’s goal---from behind, and received an instigator penalty. At 15:51, Mark Giordano’s high shot from the point zipped untouched past a screened Lundqvist, as Dubinsky missed a block attempt.
The home crowd, unhappy with rookie Tim Erixon's refusal to sign a contract after he was drafted No. 23 overall in 2009 and his subsequent trade to New York in June, burst into boos eacfh time the 20 year old touched the puck. But Erixon blocked out the jeers and played with poise. "Tremendous," said Tortorella, who was so pleased with the win that he gave his travelling troupe a day off from practice tomorrow before they head to Edmonton for a Saturday game, and one stop closer to home.