After falling to an early 1-0 deficit, the New York Rangers managed to fight back for two leads in the third period, which they also found a way to squander away. Nope, these Rangers don't ever make things easy; they might cause a few heart palpitations, but they sure know how to keep things interesting. Against a rolling Los Angeles Kings team, one that had eight wins (and two OT losses) in their past 10 games, the Rangers did what they do best: use their mental toughness and determination to their benefit, this time to eek out a 4-3 shootout victory. It was the Rangers' second straight win, and a monumental 200th victory for Henrik Lundqvist.
Just as they have for what seems like the past month, the Blueshirts fell behind early, this time on a Dustin Brown spin-o-rama power-play goal in the slot. Despite the 10-9 shot advantage in the first period, the Rangers really didn't get much going offensively and their two power-play chances managed just two shots altogether.
Yet the early struggles didn't faze this team; four minutes into the second period, Artem Anisimov lost an offensive zone faceoff, but Derek Stepan battled to receive the loose puck, made a strong move to the net and flung a shot that hit Jonatan Bernier's shoulder and bounced right to Ryan Callahan, who banged it in for his 15th goal in just 32 games this season.
The Rangers controlled the early portions of the third period -- and Marian Gaborik's knuckling goal from the faceoff circle to give the Rangers' their first lead of the game, 2-1, looked like it would really would top off one of the sniper's best games in quite some time. Gaborik played 19 minutes and had six shots on net.
But almost two minutes later Matt Greene's slapshot beat Lundqvist to knot the game at two. For a few minutes, the momentum shifted the Kings' way. But then at 16:52 Callahan took a shot that caromed off the boards and Brandon Dubinsky spun a wraparound that deflected (somehow) off of Anisimov -- this goal was taken away from Dubinsky after the game was over -- to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead. Brown would score his second of the game and 20th of the year to tie the game up yet again.
The Rangers had a four-minute power play to start the overtime period, which was cut short about halfway through because of a high-sticking call to Dubinsky, yet were unable to capitalize.
But the late-game heroics of the first half would reappear tonight. Erik Christensen made a dazzling move in the shootout and he also received help from the shootout-regular Mats Zuccarello to give the Rangers a 2-1 shootout advantage and ultimately the 4-3 win.
The Blueshirts also had 50 hits (compared to 30 for the Kings) in this game and will take on the surging New Jersey Devils Friday night. Just another important game as the regular season playoff push begins to kick into full gear.