DETROIT – The New York Rangers are finally going home after a season-opening, nine-game road trip, and they are taking a hard-fought win with them.
And this one was 14 years in the making.
Derick Brassard’s breakaway goal in the closing seconds of overtime lifted the Rangers to a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night.
Brassard’s first goal of the season, scored with only 12.9 seconds showing on the OT clock, gave New York its first win at Detroit since Jan. 30, 1999.
Pouliot had a goal and an assist, and Mats Zuccarello also scored for New York, which rallied from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits in the final game of its long trip.
“It was really hard on the body. It’s something that’s not going to happen again because of what is happening at MSG,” Brassard said of the stretch away from home.
The Rangers (3-6), who went to overtime for the first time this season, will host Montreal in the opener at renovated Madison Square Garden on Monday.
“As a player, it (home crowd) gives you so much energy on the ice. You play with more emotion,” Brassard said. “We want to get back and see our fans.”
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said his team will benefit from the early long trip.
“It’s going to be good for us. It’s been a challenge,” he said. “We don’t have the record we want but we made some strides in the right direction.”
Cam Talbot stopped 32 shots while filling in for injured regular Henrik Lundqvist.
Drew Miller and Daniel Alfredsson scored for Detroit, which lost its fourth straight. Jimmy Howard made 37 saves.
“They score more than us. The bottom line is they took the game over from us in the second period,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought we fought to get it back in the third period, but in the second we got outskated, turned pucks over in the neutral zone, never got it behind them enough. When we get in their zone we’re one-and-done too quickly.”
Brassard broke the Rangers’ two-game losing streak when he picked up a loose puck just inside the blue line and beat Howard between the pads.
“I only had to scoop up the puck. It was kind of bouncing, so I just closed my eyes and shot,” Brassard said.
Zuccarello tied it at 2 by putting in a rebound 2:18 into the third for his first goal of the season.
Pouliot had gotten the Rangers even at 1 with a power-play goal with 2:40 remaining in the second period. He put the puck past Howard during a goal-mouth scramble for his first with New York.
Alfredsson’s power-play goal with 11 seconds left in the second period restored Detroit’s lead at 2-1. He netted his second of the season with a one-timed shot from the right circle.
The Rangers had scoring chances earlier but were denied by Howard and the goal post.
Howard dove across the crease to make a spectacular blocker save on Brian Boyle about eight minutes into the middle period. Ryan McDonagh hit a goal post about five minutes into the frame.
Miller gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead with 2:48 remaining in the first period. He completed a 2-on-1 rush by beating Talbot with a wrist shot from the left circle for his first of the season.
NOTES: Lundqvist missed his second game because of an undisclosed injury. … Seeking to generate more offence, Babcock split up Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, who had been playing together on the first line. Datsyuk centred RW Daniel Alfredsson and LW Todd Bertuzzi, and Zetterberg was between LW Tomas Tatar and RW Johan Franzen for Detroit, which had scored only three goals in its previous three games. Datsyuk and Zetterberg were back together by late in the second period. … Rangers centre J.T. Miller played junior hockey with the suburban-Detroit based Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League. … The Red Wings’ healthy scratches were RW Mikael Samuelsson and RW Patrick Eaves.