Rangers hold off Blackhawks for 4-3 OT win

NHL: New York Rangers at Chicago Blackhawks
Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 in overtime Friday at the United Center, securing their fourth consecutive win. But it wasn’t easy after the Blueshirts blew a 3-1 lead in the third period.

In his first start since Jan. 26, Igor Shesterkin made 28 saves for his 20th win of the season. Three different lines contributed to goals for New York, and Mika Zibanejad scored the winner in overtime.

Petr Mrázek made 32 saves for the last-place Blackhawks, who received the tying goal from Jason Dickinson with 1:02 left in regulation to force OT.

“We’re in the business of winning, so we’ll take the points and go home,” coach Laviolette said. “I imagine nobody was really happy with the way we played. … we’ll be better next game.”

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New York Rangers 4  vs Chicago Blackhawks 3 (OT)

NHL: New York Rangers at Chicago Blackhawks
Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

In an energetic start to the game, the Blackhawks quickly took the lead, when Alex Vlasic scored his second goal of the season less than three minutes in. Vlasic’s long wrist shot from the point flew past Shesterkin, who may have been screened on the play.

However, it didn’t take the Rangers long to respond. Alexis Lafrenière continued his recent strong play by netting his 14th goal of the season, tying the game 1-1 at 4:49 of the first. Lafrenière’s goal was his third in the past four games.

New York gained more momentum shortly after, thanks to an equipment malfunction for Chicago’s Boris Katchouk, whose broken skate blade took him out of the play in the defensive zone. 

Capitalizing on this, Chris Kreider scored the Rangers’ second goal of the night. Kreider’s 24th goal gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead at 6:16 of the opening period.

Adam Fox assisted on Kreider’s goal, marking his 30th this season. This achievement etched Fox’s name in Rangers’ history, making him the second defenseman to record 30 assists in each of his first five seasons, a feat previously achieved only by Reijo Ruotsalainen (1981-86). The Rangers held on to that 2-1 entering the first intermission.

The second period proved to be more subdued compared to the opening frame, with fewer moments of high drama but still some critical plays.

The Rangers’ depth players continued to make a significant impact, as Jonny Brodzinski found the back of the net for his fourth goal of the season and lone goal of the period at 9:02. This goal, mirroring Lafrenière’s earlier achievement, marked Brodzinski’s third in the past four games and extended the Rangers’ lead to 3-1. 

The bottom six’s recent ability to step up and contribute crucially underscores the depth and versatility within the Rangers’ roster, providing them with additional firepower from beyond their top two lines. It’s something the Rangers have not seen from the bottom six during their recent struggles the past month.

As the period progressed, the Blackhawks intensified their efforts. However, Shesterkin turned aside all 11 shots he faced, preserving the Rangers’ two-goal advantage heading into the third period.

The initial pace of the third period mirrored that of the second, with limited action marking the first half. However, the game’s intensity grew as the clock wound down, leading to a dramatic finish.

Nick Foligno injected hope into the Blackhawks, narrowing the gap to a single goal. Foligno scored his 11th goal of the season at 13:37 to make it 3-2.

The Blackhawks’ persistence paid off in the dying minutes of the game. With just over a minute remaining in regulation, Dickinson became the hero for Chicago by redirecting Seth Jones’ shot from the point past Shesterkin, tying the game 3-3. Dickinson’s goal, his 16th, forced overtime, where the Rangers are now 7-3 this season.

The extra period was short-lived, thanks to Zibanejad’s decisive goal for the Rangers. At 2:37 of OT, Zibanejad finished a pretty feed from Kreider for his 16th goal to extend New York’s winning streak to four games. It’s their longest win streak since Nov. 7-18, when they also won four straight.

With the goal, Zibanejad became the Rangers all-time leader in overtime goals with eight.

The Blueshirts will be back in action on Monday night, as they return home to face off against the Calgary Flames. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 PM.