NEW YORK (AP) The defense of Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi has helped Henrik Lundqvist to many of the goalie’s record wins with the New York Rangers.
The duo’s timely offense gave him his latest victory in stunning fashion.
Lundqvist escaped with his 305th NHL win after Girardi scored the tying goal late in regulation and McDonagh netted the winner – with each setting up the other – 1:56 into overtime to lift the Rangers over the Phoenix Coyotes 4-3 on Monday night.
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Lundqvist, who made 18 saves, was honored before the game for recently passing Mike Richter for first place on the team’s wins list (301) and Ed Giacomin in shutouts (49). Both were in attendance on the Madison Square Garden blue carpet along with Lundqvist’s parents, his wife and young daughter.
”It was a roller coaster. It was definitely a special one,” Lundqvist said after the Rangers erased an early 2-0 deficit and then climbed out of the late hole. ”The way it started with the ceremony was just a memory for life.”
Then he and the Rangers had a first period to forget.
Oilver Ekman-Larsson and Jeff Halpern scored for the Coyotes, who seemed primed to run the Rangers out of their building. But Brad Richards and Derick Brassard scored in the second to get New York even.
The Rangers entered the third down by a goal again, with the added frustration that Chris Kreider deflected Kyle Chipchura’s attempted pass into his own net.
McDonagh ended the game when he put the puck past backup goalie Thomas Greiss, who relieved injured starter Mike Smith in the third and gave up the tying and winning goals. Girardi got the Rangers even with 3:28 left in regulation when he tipped in a drive by defense partner McDonagh.
”It was pretty ugly in the first period, and we weren’t playing with the pace that we are accustomed to and that we need. Slowly but surely we got our groove going,” said McDonagh, who has 13 goals this season and 12 points the past 12 games after a three-point night. ”We are getting better chemistry with each other and understanding situations – when you need to take risks and jump in.”
The Rangers’ fourth straight win pushed them one point ahead of Philadelphia and into second place in the Metropolitan Division with nine games left. Philadelphia, which has two games in hand, will meet the Rangers in New York on Wednesday.
Chipchura, who entered with only two goals and 11 assists in 69 games, helped set up Halpern’s goal and then was credited with the go-ahead tally on Kreider’s miscue.
”I’m glad to be contributing offensively. I had several fortunate bounces,” Chipchura said. ”I don’t know why we can’t bear down late in games.”
Smith stopped 25 shots while making his 12th consecutive start, but was forced to leave with 7:34 left in regulation after he injured his right leg when Brassard was pushed into him by Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris.
”Smitty is one of the best goalies in the league. To lose him will be really tough for us,” Chipchura said.
Greiss came on for his first action since Feb. 28 and stopped seven of nine shots.
”Tough of course to see Mike go down,” Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. ”Greiss came in and was great. That’s an unbelievably tough position to be in.”
The Coyotes, who hold the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference, will play at Pittsburgh on Tuesday. There was no update on Smith’s condition.
After being ushered off the ice by a chorus of boos following a poor first, the Rangers got the Garden rocking in the second, but Phoenix went back in front before the second intermission.
Richards cut the Coyotes’ lead in half at 6:10 when a drive by Carl Hagelin hit him, and bounded between Smith’s pads for Richards’ 17th goal and first in 11 games.
Brassard later bumped with Chipchura in the neutral zone to get the puck into the Phoenix end, and then netted his 17th to tie it 2-2.
In the first, just 29 seconds after Rick Nash went off for tripping, Ekman-Larsson scored his 13th of the season with a stick-bending wrist shot from the right circle at 4:40. Smith earned his third assist of the season.
Lundqvist kept Phoenix at bay for a bit, but was hung out to dry by his teammates when Halpern made it 2-0 on the Coyotes’ fifth shot. Chipchura made a backhanded pass from below the goal line in front to a wide-open Halpern at 8:22 for his fifth goal.
Kreider helped put Phoenix ahead again when he deflected an attempted centering pass by Chipchura from the left-wing boards between Lundqvist’s legs to make it 3-2 with 1:09 left in the second.
Lundqvist angrily swept the puck out of the net as Chipchura celebrated his third goal of the season and first in 57 games, dating to Oct. 29 vs. Los Angeles.
NOTES: Rangers D John Moore missed his second consecutive game because of concussion symptoms. … Coyotes LW Lauri Korpikoski sat out due to an upper-body injury. … Chipchura has 21 goals and 52 assists in his NHL career. … McDonagh, who also assisted on Brassard’s goal, has 102 career NHL points.