Stepan beats former team in OT to cap Coyotes comeback
NEW YORK -- The Arizona Coyotes had every reason to feel the deck was stacked against them. They had lost four straight and trailed 3-0 in the second period against the New York Rangers.
However, instead of accepting another loss, Arizona rallied back to tie the score and Derek Stepan scored with 32 seconds left on the clock in overtime against his former team as the Coyotes beat the Rangers 4-3 Friday night.
"I'd be lying to you if I told you that didn't feel good," Stepan said of getting winner back on his former home ice. "We never quit on it. We stayed with our system. I like this group's resiliency and character. Down 3-1 we could have easily coast through the third period but kept our foot on the gas pedal."
Stepan fired a wrist shot off the crossbar 4 1/2 minutes into the extra period as the Coyotes beat the Rangers for the first time in 10 meetings. Nick Schmaltz picked up his 100th career NHL assist on the play.
Jordan Oesterle, Josh Archibald and Oliver Ekman-Larsson also scored for Arizona, and Adin Hill stopped 27 shots.
Kevin Hayes had a goal and an assist, and Pavel Buchnevich and Mika Zibanejad also scored to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead less than six minutes into the second. Henrik Lundqvist finished with 30 saves.
"It's just tough to accept this one. It's a game that was right there for us," Lundqvist said. "That was a tough one, felt like we should have won this one."
Oesterle got the Coyotes on the scoreboard at 10:42 of the middle period when his slap shot from the blue line deflected off Lundqvist's arm. Schmaltz record his first of two assists on the play.
Stepan found Archibald cutting past the hashmarks with 6:49 left in the third to pull the Coyotes within one, and Ekman-Larsson fired a sharp-angled shot over Lundqvist's glove to tie it 3:48 later.
"Everyone is tired of losing," Ekman-Larsson said. "It could have easily gone the other way. I feel like we have a different group, nobody ever gives up on a play or in a game. That's what we want to keep building on. We want to get back in the playoff race and that's how you do it."
Buchnevich opened the scoring when he hammered a one-timer at 4:01 of the first period. The Russian winger missed the previous 13 games with a broken thumb. Jimmy Vesey had an assist on the play to extend his point streak to three games.
Hayes tallied his eighth of the season with 3:34 left in the opening period. Mats Zuccarello delivered a well-placed cross-ice pass to set up the goal. Hayes posted a multi-point game for the third consecutive contest, and has three goals and three assists in the that span.
Zibanejad snuck a wrist shot past Hill at 5:48 of the second as New York converted for the third time while up a skater. Chris Kreider was planted in front to provide a screen, and Neal Pionk recorded an assist. Pionk leads the Rangers in power-play assists (10) and power-play points (12) this season.
"We have to figure it out," Rangers coach David Quinn said after his team squandered a three-goal lead at home for the second straight time. "We have to get better."
New York was 1-15 on the man-advantage in the previous eight games and Arizona entered the game with the NHL's top penalty killing unit.
NOTES: Rangers D Kevin Shattenkirk will be sidelined two-to-four weeks with a separated shoulder sustained in the previous game against the Lightning. ... The Rangers scratched F Lias Andersson for the first time since recalling the 2017 seventh-overall draft pick from Hartford of the AHL on Nov. 5. ... Rangers D Adam McQuaid did not dress but has been practicing in a regular contact jersey for the previous few days and is expected to return to the lineup in the coming days. ... Coyotes F Alex Galchenyuk missed a second straight game with a lower-body injury and is considered day-to-day.
Coyotes play at Carolina on Sunday.