New York, NY (Sports Network) – Erik Christensen scored the game-winning goal in the first round of the shootout as the New York Rangers came from behind to down the Phoenix Coyotes, 4-3, at Madison Square Garden.
Dan Girardi, Brandon Prust and Derek Stepan scored in regulation for the Rangers, who have won three straight and four of their last five.
Martin Biron turned away 30 shots in regulation to earn the victory in the only meeting between the clubs this year.
Taylor Pyatt, Adrian Aucoin and Martin Hanzal notched the goals for the Coyotes, who have dropped seven of their eight ventures beyond regulation this season.
Phoenix left wing Ray Whitney celebrated his 1,100th NHL game with an assist on Hanzal’s goal in the second period.
Jason LaBarbera suffered the defeat in spite of stopping 33 shots. He was backed up by amateur netminder Tom Fenton, who was signed off the street earlier in the day after Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov came down with a case of the flu.
Christensen scored on a wrist shot over a prone LaBarbera to begin the shootout before Lee Stempniak was denied by Biron on a backhand try.
Stepan shot wide to open the second round prior to Biron making a skate save on Radim Vrbata.
Artem Anisimov fired wide in the final round before Eric Belanger, the Coyotes last hope, lost control of the puck and could not get a shot toward the net.
New York tied the game at three with 5:43 remaining in regulation when Stepan wristed home a rebound of a Michal Rozsival shot that had also been chipped at by Chris Drury.
The Coyotes took advantage of an early power-play opportunity, scoring a fluke goal just 87 seconds into the game. Pyatt chased down his own dump-in and banked it in off Biron from the left side of the net.
Aucoin’s slapshot from right point beat Biron and made it 2-0 in favor of the visitors less than six minutes in..
The Rangers got on the board with a power-play marker with just under eight minutes to go in the period when Ruslan Fedetenko made a cross-ice pass to Girardi, who beat LaBarbera with a wrister from the right circle.
After the hosts couldn’t convert with the man advantage, the Coyotes were able to do so to restore a two-goal edge midway through the second period.
Shane Doan, who originally drew the infraction, fed Hanzal at the top of the crease from where he stuffed the disc into a wide open net.
LaBarbera went to play the puck in the corner to his left only to see Prust get there first, weave to the net and slide a backhander past a sprawled netminder to draw the Rangers to within 3-2 on a short-handed tally with only 5.1 seconds remaining in the middle session.
The Rangers have scored a power-play goal in seven of their last eight games. New York improved to 9-0-0 in the second of back-to-back games this season…Biron earned his fourth career victory over the Coyotes…Phoenix lost for only the second time in 16 games when scoring first…LaBarbera, who was drafted by the Rangers in 1998, lost to them for the first time in five career games…New York Yankees veteran closer Mariano Rivera was in attendance.