The New York Rangers finally snapped their four game winless streak, and were able to overcome the Calgary Flames 4-3 in the shootout. This seemed like a perfect game for the Rangers to start feeling confident about themselves, as they battled to the very end. They were able to battle back after going down 2-0, found a way to tie it up after going down 3-2, and finally put together a win in the shootout. Dylan McIlrath also dropped the gloves for the first time in his NHL career, and went at with Brian McGratton, who is quite the first opponent.
While McIlrath did take a little bit of a beating, he held his own out there against one of the bigger enforcers, and his teammates rallied around him. Either way, it was just a hard fought team effort tonight, and they were finally able to get back into the win column.
As mentioned above, the Rangers would give up the games first goal once again, after they failed an early power play to grab the momentum. The Flames received their own power play opportunity as Chris Kreider was whistled down for a questionable interference call, as he inadvertently collided with a Flames player at center ice. The Flames didn't waste much time as they quickly pounced on the opportunity, and Mikael Backlund redirected a puck at the top of the crease, and Henrik Lundqvist didn't have much of a chance.
The Rangers would show a little bit of fight following the goal, but things went from bad to worse pretty quickly. Just seven minutes after the Flames scored their first goal, Curtis Glencross tapped in a goal to the left of the post to put the Flames up 2-0 in the first period. The goal was a direct result of a failed clearing attempt by Anton Stralman, and left Jiri Hudler with a wide open passing lane over to Glencross.
The Rangers haven't been making any major mistakes as of late, but it appears as if the smallest of details are coming back to haunt the Rangers quite a bit. With the Rangers needing a quick rebound, Derek Stepan broke his ten game drought and pulled the Rangers back to within a goal.
A lot of the credit on this goal goes to Dan Girardi, who made a beautiful cross ice saucer pass to find Rick Nash at the blue line. Nash quickly dropped the puck off to Stepan, and he ripped a shot through traffic that beat Karri Ramo to the left of his pad. It was just a huge momentum goal for the Rangers, as they needed something to finally break their way in order to gain some confidence back.
That goal would wind up paying dividends later on in the second period as the Rangers came out flying right from the drop of the puck. Carl Hagelin eventually knotted up this game for the Rangers around the halfway mark, as he caught Ramo out of position and slammed the puck home on a wrap around from behind the net. Benoit Pouliot played a large part in creating the initial rush as he made a great play to seal off Lee Stempniak in the defensive end, and quickly transitioned into an odd-man rush back the other way.
With both the Rangers and their fans gearing up for a big third period, you had to figure the Rangers would come out with a strong period to close out the game. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, and the Rangers actually had their backs against the wall for a majority of the period. It only took the Flames four minutes into the period to capitalize, as Sean Monahan chipped in his sixth goal of the season to give the Flames their second lead of the game.
The goal was due to yet another defensive breakdown in the defensive end, and the entire five man unit left Henrik Lundqvist out to dry once again. Mats Zuccarello wound up losing a puck battle at the corner boards, and Justin Falk quickly jumped into the play to contain Curtis Glencross. But with Falk going behind the net, no one covered Monahan cutting to the net, and he had an easy chip in from the side of the post. It was absolutely deflating for the Rangers, as they had clawed all the way back, only to find themselves down yet again.
However, that would only last for another eight minutes or so as Chris Kreider came up in the clutch yet again. He and Derek Stepan connected on a nice little give and go, which resulted in Kreider chipping home a loose puck in front to tie the game at 3-3. Just as they have in the past, the Rangers found a way to battle their way back into the game, and they were able to force overtime.
The Rangers actually had a huge opportunity to close out the game late in regulation as they were handed a 5-on-3 for a full minute and a half, but they let it slip away. To make matters worse, Chris Kreider wound up taking a double minor penalty that carried over to overtime. Luckily for the Rangers, they were able to kill off the penalty in overtime, and forced their way to a shootout, which was their first of the regular season.
Mats Zuccarello, Brad Richards, Dominic Moore, and Benoit Pouliot all scored in the shootout for the Rangers, and Henrik Lundqvist was able to shut down Mikael Backlund on the final shot to earn the victory. The Rangers will have a few days off before they welcome back the Pitttsburgh Penguins, which should be an interesting game.