UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP)When the puck came to Mika Zibanejad in overtime, he knew what he wanted to do.
Zibanejad scored 28 seconds into the extra period and the New York Rangers recovered after giving up a two-goal lead and beat the rival New York Islanders 4-3 Tuesday night for their eighth win in nine games.
On the winner, Artemi Panarin stole the puck and had a breakaway, but as he crossed the blue line, all three Islanders skaters converged on him and knocked the puck away. However, he managed to swat it to the middle and it went to Zibanejad, who fired it past Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov,
”The puck popped out and I just felt like shooting, and it went in,” Zibaejad said of his 29th goal of the season and 100th with the Rangers. ”I thought it was my opportunity to do something. Luckily it went in.”
Artemi Panarin had a goal and an assist, and Greg McKegg and Brett Howden also scored and Ryan Lindgren had a career-high two assists to give the Rangers their franchise-record eighth straight road win. They have also won 11 of 14 overall to pull four points behind Columbus for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.
”We’re finding a way right now and that’s what we need going forward,” Zibanejad said. ”Right now we’re just really consistent the way we play and the way we manage games.”
Alexandar Georgiev, starting for the first time in nine days with Igor Shesterkin sidelined with a rib injury, stopped 42 shots to beat the Islanders for the third time in four starts this season.
”This time of year, any team that wins a game in the National Hockey League your goalie better be good, and our guy was really good tonight,” Rangers coach David Quinn said.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored and got into a fight in his Islanders debut one day after being acquired in trade-deadline deal with Ottawa. Jordan Eberle and Brock Nelson also scored, and Mathew Barzal had two assists as the Islanders lost for the fifth time in seven games (2-4-1). Varlamov finished with 24 saves.
With Varlamov pulled for an extra skater, Nelson tied it 3-3 with just under 18 seconds to go as he tipped a pass from Devon Toews past Georgiev from the bottom of the left circle.
”We stuck with it, found a way to get a point that could be crucial down the stretch,” Nelson said.
Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba leveled the Islanders’ Michael Dal Calle nearly six minutes into the third. Pageau and Josh Bailey both went at Trouba, with the newcomer getting there first and trading punches with Trouba before they wrestled to the ground. Pageau and Trouba were both given 5-minute fighting majors, and Pageau also got a minor as an instigator and a 10-minute misconduct.
”The way the guys welcomed me here, I’m sure someone would have stepped up for me,” Pageau said. ”I thought it was a high hit. That’s why I did it.”
Howden then pushed the Rangers’ lead to 3-1 as he deflected Brendan Smith’s one-timer from the right point at 9:34.
Toews appeared to pull the Islanders within one with 7:44 left, but his goal was immediately waved off for goalie interference because Anders Lee was in the crease. The Islanders challenged but the call stood after a review, putting the Rangers on the power play for delay of game.
”I thought we were winning that challenge for sure,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. ”I didn’t think Georgiev engaged with Leesy. … That one I thought for sure was a goal.”
The Rangers’ Ryan Strome was then whistled for tripping 14 seconds later to put the teams at 4-on-4.
Seconds after Eberle came out of the penalty box, he took a pass from Barzal and beat Georgiev on the blocker side to make it 3-2 with 5:37 left.
The Islanders trailed 1-0 after 20 minutes despite outshooting the Rangers 15-7 in the opening period. They kept up the pressure in the second with a 10-2 advantage over the first six minutes of the period.
McKegg then doubled the Rangers’ lead as he deflected Brendan Lemieux’s long one-timer from straightway at 7:48. The Rangers were being outshot 26-12 at the time.
Pageau brought the Islanders to 2-1, taking advantage of an unusual bounce with 2:56 left in the second. Ryan Pulock fired a shot from the left point that came off the end boards and Pageau backhanded it into the open net on the left doorstep while Geogiev – and most everyone else – was looking the other way expecting the puck to rebound to his left. It was Pageau’s 25th of the season, extending his career high.
”It was a lucky bounce,” Pageau said. ”We were doing a solid job the whole game putting pucks o net, trying to create traffic in front of the goalie.”
Panarin got the Rangers on the scoreboard first as beat Varlamov from the left circle with just under 3 minutes left in the first for his career-high 32nd of the season. It came on the Rangers’ sixth shot on goal.
NOTES: Panarin has 84 points, just three shy of the career high he set last season with Columbus. … McKegg has three goals in his last eight games. … The Rangers improved to 10-3-0 in February, tying the franchise record for wins in the month. … The Rangers improved to 23-1-2 when leading after two periods. … Pageau got his 41st point, moving him within two of the career high he set in 2015-16. … Barzal’s first assist, on Eberle’s goal, was his 200th career point.
Rangers: At Montreal on Thursday night, the middle game of a three-game trip.
Islanders: At St. Louis on Thursday night.
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