Zibanejad’s goal helps Rangers edge Pens in OT
Although they will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since 2010, the New York Rangers are still scrapping for wins.
Mika Zibanejad scored the tying goal late in the third period and then got the winner 2:53 into overtime to rally the Rangers to a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night.
On the winner, Zibanejad took a nice pass from Kreider and snuck a wrist shot past Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith for his career-best 22nd goal and 100th of his career. The Ranges won after overcoming deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 in the third period.
“It was a fun game,” Zibanejad. “A lot of chances, good battle out there. It’s always nice when you get away with a win from a game like this.”
Chris Kreider had a goal and three assists for his first career four-point night, and Jesper Fast also scored to help the Rangers get their second straight win after a three-game skid. Neal Pionk had three assists and Alexandar Georgiev, making his second consecutive start, finished with 37 saves.
“It’s a group of professional athletes,” Kreider said of the Rangers’ attitude after trading off several key pieces at the trade deadline. “Guys aren’t going to quit.”
Bryan Rust, Riley Sheahan and Carl Hagelin scored for the Penguins, who lost for just the fifth time in their last 15 games (10-4-1). DeSmith, filling in for injured starter Matt Murray, stopped 29 shots in his ninth career start. Murray has missed eight straight games after a concussion during practice Feb. 26.
“They found another gear,” Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz said. “They really took it to us in the third. We paid for it.”
Evgeni Malkin had a chance to win the game in the final 11 seconds when the referees awarded the Penguins a penalty shot because Georgiev knocked the net off the moorings with under two minutes remaining but the rookie goalie stopped Malkin with his right pad to force overtime.
“There was certainly a lot going around in that last period,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “Momentum is a funny thing sometimes. . Take the two points and go from there.”
The Rangers are 2-0-1 in their last three games, and 5-2-2 in their last nine. New York is seven points out of the last postseason spot in the Eastern Conference with 11 games remaining.
The Rangers erased two deficits in the third period with three goals to earn a point. Kreider got a power-play goal at 8:42 of the third, before Fast tied it 2-2 with less than seven minutes remaining.
“Guys made a concerted effort to get pucks in deep and make their defense turn,” Kreider said. I think when we were able to start doing that as a team we were able to tilt the ice a little bit.”
However, Pittsburgh regained the lead when Hagelin finished a wraparound with 4:19 to go.
Rust opened the scoring with his 11th of the season at 1:53 of the second period when his wrist shot sailed past the Georgiev’s glove to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead. Rust, 25, returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games with a concussion. Former Blueshirt Derick Brassard assisted on the play.
Just 55 seconds later, Sheahan made it 2-0 with his 10th as he crashed the net and redirected Kris Letang’s shot. Carter Rowney also assisted on the play, registering his first point since Dec. 18, ending a 21-game pointless streak.