Rangers win but lose captain McDonagh to vicious hit to head
Derek Stepan helped the Rangers pull out a dramatic win Thursday night. Now New York awaits word on the status of its banged up captain.
Stepan scored with 1:31 remaining and Derick Brassard added an empty-netter for his second goal of the game to lift the Rangers over the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2.
Stepan's one-time goal came 59 seconds after Colin Greening tied it with his first goal as a member of the Leafs.
New York won despite a lopsided effort in Toronto's favor and the loss of captain Ryan McDonagh to an injury just a day after he returned.
Toronto's leading scorer Leo Komarov was ejected after elbowing McDonagh in the head late in the first period. McDonagh came back from a concussion Wednesday night after missing four games and sat the rest of this one as a precaution, the team said.
Komarov got a match penalty for an illegal check to the head and could face supplemental discipline from the league.
"We all saw the hit," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "I'm going to let the league decide on it."
There was no further word on McDonagh's status.
Mats Zuccarello had a goal and two assists and J.T. Miller had three assists for the Rangers. Antti Raanta made 35 saves.
"There's no doubt that if it wouldn't have been for Antti, it wouldn't have been a game," Vigneault said of his goaltender, who had allowed nine goals in his previous two starts.
New York has been among the hottest teams in the league of late. The club trails only Washington in the Metropolitan Division and had a six-game point streak (5-0-1) snapped at home against Chicago on Wednesday night.
The Rangers lead the Eastern Conference with 21 points since Jan. 16.
Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau also scored for the Leafs. Jonathan Bernier stopped 16 shots.
The Leafs controlled play, outshooting the Rangers 11-3 at one point in the first period and 37-20 overall while landing the game's first goal from Parenteau. Parenteau inadvertently redirected Viktor Loov's point shot with his left skate, and, after a video review, got his 15th goal this season.
"Let's face it, we carried the play," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. "We had all the opportunity, we should've won the hockey game. We turned the puck over twice and gave them two free goals."
Parenteau is a likely trade chip for the Leafs going into the Feb. 29 trade deadline and has seven points in seven games this month.
Bernier was given an opportunity to start and reclaim Toronto's crease with apparent no. 1 James Reimer struggling. The 27-year-old was sharp with limited action but still dropped his sixth straight start.
He gave up three goals on 19 shots. His last victory came on Jan. 6 when he had a 39-save shutout in Anaheim.
"As a goalie, you can't control if you win or lose, you've just got to make sure you do your job," Bernier said. "Hopefully by doing that you get some wins. I felt good out there."
Bernier entered the night with the second-worst save percentage in the league this season (.899) and the worst mark at even-strength among goaltenders with at least 20 starts (.905).
Notes:Thursday marked the first game back in Toronto for the Leafs following a five-game trip. The club, which has played the fewest home games in the league this season, plays eight of its next 10 games at the Air Canada Centre. Next up is a game Saturday night against the Flyers. ... The Rangers host the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday night.