For the third consecutive game, Madison Square Garden hosted an overtime thriller.
Unlike the previous two games, however, Wednesday’s game ended with the New York Rangers receiving 2 points instead of 1. After 1:50 of overtime, Rangers center Derick Brassard netted a loose puck during a Rangers power play. Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jonas Gustavsson had just blocked a shot by Dan Girardi on the opposite side, subsequently leaving a corner of the goal exposed, and Brassard capitalized on this opportunity. By successfully closing out the game, New York (6-4-2) took the 4-3 victory and tallied their fifth straight win against Detroit (6-3-4).
On paper, Wednesday was a good night for a win: it was the Rangers’ day for Hockey Fights Cancer, Alain Vigneault coached his 900th career game, and NBCSN featured the Rangers/Red Wings matchup as its weekly “Wednesday Night Rivalry” game.
On the ice, this win was a fight to the very end.
The Rangers shot out to a 1-0 lead when Rick Nash registered his 10th goal of the season, a deflection off Brassard’s shot 6:36 into the first period. This rare Rangers power play goal was one of New York’s 9 shots in the opening half of the period, during which they controlled the game completely. But though Detroit’s first shot on goal did not come until the latter half of the first, the Red Wings gathered momentum and took control of the closing minutes of the period. The Rangers went into the locker room holding onto their 1-0 lead, but the Red Wings had leveled the playing field in terms of shots and energy.
The second period saw the Rangers’ 1-0 lead turn into a 2-0 lead as Martin St. Louis found the back of the net on a breakaway after 6:36 of play. This goal followed an impressive save by Henrik Lundqvist on a penalty shot by fellow Swede Gustav Nyquist at 5:51.
This was Lundqvist’s first penalty shot save since 2012; before Wednesday night’s save, he had allowed four consecutive goals in such situations. The Red Wings found a way to score midway through the period, however, and put in 2 shots in 13 seconds to tie the game 2-2 at 12:15. These goals constituted the first time the Red Wings had scored on the Rangers since October 26, 2013.
“At the time, it felt like a big save,” said Lundqvist about his save on Nyquist. “Obviously it was a little frustrating there when they got [the tying goals]…but I think we responded in a good way.”
The score remained 2-2 until 12:10 into the third period. Dominic Moore found Lee Stempniak on the right wing during a 2-on-2 rush, and Stempniak converted Moore’s saucer pass to make the score 3-2. The Red Wings pulled Gustavsson with almost 3 minutes still remaining in the period for the extra attacker, but it wasn’t until the final 8 seconds of the game that Detroit found a way to score again. This final goal in regulation came as the result of ill-timed penalties by the Rangers and persistent shooting by the Red Wings.
Tied at 3, the game headed into overtime, where Brassard would eventually net the game-winner.
“Sometimes you’re going to come back and score when you’re down, and sometimes you’re going to have the lead and they’re gonna tie the game late like [Detroit] did,” Brassard said after the game. “When they got that tying goal we just stayed positive, talked to each other on the bench, and got it done in overtime.”
“I feel like our game is coming,” Lundqvist added. “We’re getting more and more consistent.”
The Rangers now travel to Toronto for a game against the Maple Leafs on Saturday.