New York Rangers get last Laf in crazy OT win over Flames
The New York Rangers came back from a 9-day break and unloaded with boundless energy against the Calgary Flames, who were up for the challenge.
As they went toe-to-toe and fist-to-fist, the Blueshirts eventually came out on top with Alexis Lafreniere burying the winner in overtime. After the 5-4 victory, head coach Gerard Gallant didn’t have much of an explanation for his team’s overcharged performance.
“It was an exciting game, no doubt about that,” Gallant said. “Wherever that came from I don’t know… Tonight it was different. There were big hits and a bunch of a fights going on. I don’t know, first game back maybe the guys were pissed that the break was too short.”
New York Rangers beat Flames in OT
Red-hot Filip Chytil picked up the first goal of this crazy contest at the 5:37 mark of the opening period. The Rangers’ center turned on the afterburners coming in two-on-one using Alexis Lafreniere as a decoy before sniping it by Jacob Markstrom for the early lead. Kaapo Kakko and Adam Fox picked up the helpers.
Blake Coleman responded minutes later with the Blueshirts playing soft defense allowing him to easily find a loose puck to tie it.
Then the Rangers got physical with captain Jacob Trouba leading the way on a massive hit to Dillon Dube. Chris Tanev immediately reacted forcing Trouba to drop the gloves. That was followed by a big hit by Sammy Blais on Milan Lucic, which started another melee involving Will Cuylle’s second NHL fight, this time with MacKenzie Weegar.
Chytil once again was able to regain the lead for his squad early in the second period. This time, he stole a pass in the defensive zone and blew by defenders for a breakaway tally. It was his 18th goal of the season and gives him 14 points in his last 12 matches. According to the Rangers, his 10 goals since January 3rd ranks 4th in the NHL.
As they did before, the Flames responded with a Tyler Toffoli power-play goal late in the middle frame. Artemi Panarin stepped on the ice early leading to a too many men minor setting his coach off, making him serve the penalty.
Trouba took matters into his own hands (or shoulder) by laying out Nazem Kadri crossing the blue-line. With Kadri’s helmet flying off, Dube rushed in to defend his teammates picking up the instigator penalty.
The Breadman would make up for his early transgression by recording an assist on Mika Zibanejad’s power play tally with just 14 seconds to go.
The third period was the wildest of the bunch as Andrew Mangiapane scored a controversial goal to tie the game at 6:38 of the third period. On the replay, it appeared clear to Jaroslav Halak (28 saves) and everyone in the Garden that Mangiapane used his skate to kick the puck in. After a long review, the goal was allowed to stand.
Michael Stone then gave the Flames their first lead of the game 2:03 later setting up the stage for a wild finish.
First, Zibanejad would equalize the match on a nifty pass by Panarin. His shot sailed over Markstrom’s outstretched glove with 7:05 remaining in regulation. It was Mika’s team-leading 24th goal.
Lafreniere ended it by using his speed to set up a two-on-one situation. Putting on the brakes he passed it for a Zibanejad one-timer that Markstrom remarkably stopped. Seeing the puck loose and the Flames goalie out of position, the young forward beat two defenders to the puck for the winner.
“It was a hard slap shot and I thought it was going in,” Lafreniere said via NHL.com. “And then I see it coming back in front. I was behind the net a little bit, just put on the breaks, sprinted to it and tried to score.”
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