Tyler Bozak was put in two very quality scoring chances due to defensive lapses, and capitalized on both, as the Maple Leafs edged the Rangers 3-2 in overtime Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Bozak opened the game's scoring in the second after scoreless first period that saw the Rangers hold a 12-11 shot advantage. Just after the Leafs killed of a James van Reimsdyk minor penalty, Bozak got behind the Rangers defense and drew a hook from John Moore, earning a penalty shot. Bozak skated in for the penalty shot on Henrik Lundqvist, and beat him with a quick snapshot under the glove to give Toronto a 1-0 advantage.
The Rangers would press to try to find an equalizing goal, but struggled in their own zone at time with defensive assignment. On one sequence, the Rangers got caught as the Leafs transitioned up the ice. Phil Kessel was able to feed it cross ice to Jake Gardiner, who's wrist shot beat , and had the Leafs celebrating with the goal light on. But after a review, the goal was waved off as the puck hit both goal posts but never crossed the line.
On a player later in the period though, the Rangers would not come out unscathed. Anton Stralman turned the puck over behind the net. As the Leafs worked it back out front, Nikolai Kulemin was able to shovel it open to a wide open Nazem Kadri, who beat Lundqvist and gave Toronto a 2-0 lead.
After Stralman turned it over behind the icing line, the Rangers were unable to rotate and get bodies on Leaf players, as Stralman and Marc Staal were left defending the same player on one post, as Kadri sat all alone at the other.
It looked like the Leafs would have a chance to extend their 2-0 lead early in the third period after Brad Richards took a tripping penalty at the 5:18 mark. But sloppy play from the Leafs blue line led to not just one, but two shorthanded goals on the same penalty kill, marking the second time in four games Toronto has surrendered two goals on a power play.
The first play began with great up-ice pressure from Brian Boyle. After Boyle created a turnover, Dominic Moore followed up on the play and threw the puck on net. Ryan McDonagh was able to collect the rebound above the circles, and his shot toward the net deflected off the skate of Dion Phaneuf and past Bernier to cut the Rangers' deficit to 2-1.
Only 79 seconds later, the Rangers burned the Leafs power play unit again. Moore intercepted a cross-ice pass in his own zone, and broke out with Derek Stepan on a 2-on-1. Moore quickly fed the puck to Stepan, who gave it back to Moore in the Toronto zone with Phaneuf closing on him. With only Bernier to beat, Moore roofed it high to the blocker side to knot the game at two apiece.
Both teams traded chances for the rest of the third period, and the Rangers nearly won it before the end of regulation. McDonagh was left all alone in the high slot, and after walking the puck down, took a wrist shot that Bernier got a piece of. As the puck trickled toward the goal line, was cleared away by a Leafs defender.
The teams started overtime three aside with Derick Brassard and Kulemin in the box for matching minors, opening play up a bit. With both teams back at full strength, Phil Kessel was able to beat Dan Girardi to a puck behind the net. McDonagh left his spot to chip in, leaving Bozak all alone in front for Kessel to feed to, and Bozak potted the game-winner past Lundqvist.
It wasn't McDonagh's best game, despite scoring the goal and being a plus-one on the day. It's also worth noting he was 12 seconds shy of 30 minutes of ice time, and took a pretty nasty spill into the boards in the third period. Because he's normally so steady, his lesser efforts stick out a bit. Lundqvist was stellar in net, making a number of quality saves, including one on a Kulemin breakaway in the third, and another with the glove on Bozak in the second. He made another strong sequence of saves in the second period, ending in him getting a pad on a Joffrey Lupul rebound attempt.
The point moves the Rangers up to 72 on the season, as they remain in the thick of 10 teams in the East separated by 10 points that occupy the three to 12 spots. The Rangers will be back in action Friday as they travel to Carolina to take on the Hurricanes.