Brendan Shanahan, the leading goal scorer among all active NHL players, scored his eighth of the season and the 606th of his spectacular career, but it was his shootout gem that won’t count in the points race that gave the New York Rangers a 5-4 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
Five players missed before Shanahan got his turn and the veteran left-winger, who grew up on the city’s lakefront in the Mimico neighbourhood, beat Andrew Raycroft with a low wrist shot to the mitt side.
Scoring during regulation time for the Rangers (4-4-0) were Michael Nylander, Jason Ward and Nigel Dawes, with his first NHL goal. Jaromir Jagr had two assists.
A goal by Toronto’s Jeff O’Neill with three minutes remaining in regulation had extended things. Matt Stajan set O’Neill up in the circle to the right of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, and the veteran right-winger fired the puck into the top short-side corner of the net to tie it 4-4.
Darcy Tucker played a complete two-way game for Toronto, scoring his team-high sixth and seventh goals and twice toppling Jagr with hard and clean hits. Alexei Ponikarovsky also scored for the Leafs (4-2-3).
The Leafs outshot the Rangers 38-28 through overtime.
On power plays, Toronto was 1-for-5 and New York was 2-for-4.
Mats Sundin, Ponikarovsky and Tucker missed shootout chances, while Jagr and Nylander failed before Shanahan thrilled family and friends who were part of the crowd of 19,400.
Dawes opened the scoring from the circle to the right of Raycroft at 5:16. The five-foot-eight native of Winnipeg was second in the AHL in goals scored (35) by rookies last season. He’s the all-time goals scored leader of the WHL’s Kootenay Ice, and he helped Canada win world junior gold in 2005.
Tucker tied it with his team-high sixth goal at 11:33. Karel Rachunek flubbed a pass deep in his own zone in serving the puck up to Tucker. The Rangers have been awful in their own zone, and Rachunek has been the worst offender. The Czech defenceman’s latest miscue left him with a team-worst plus-minus rating of minus-seven. So far, he’s not worth the US$1.8 million he’s pulling down.
Ponikarovsky got a breakaway pass from Ian White and, just before he got to Lundqvist, he pulled the puck to his backhand to flip it into the top mitt-side corner of the net for a 2-1 Toronto lead at 17:56.
Shanahan tied it 2-2 with his eighth goal in eight games. With Toronto’s Brendan Bell in the penalty box, Jagr passed through the crease and Shanahan’s timing was perfect in slamming the puck past Raycroft. The goal moved Shanahan within two of Dino Ciccarelli for 13th place all-time.
Nylander deflected in a Jagr shot to put the Rangers up 3-2 on a power play at 3:28 of the second period with Wade Belak in the box.
A third straight power-play goal, this one by Tucker, tied it 3-3 at 6:04. Tucker positioned himself at the bottom of the circle to the left of Lundqvist, Tomas Kaberle slid a long pass, and Tucker swung at the puck as Rachunek sat in the penalty box. Hooking calls led to all three of the power-play goals.
Ward scored off a scramble in front of Raycroft to make it 4-3 Rangers at 8:55.
The Leafs played their best hockey in second periods in most of their first eight games, outscoring opponents 15-9, but the Rangers outshot them 17-10 in regaining the lead.
Toronto poured it on in the third and Lundqvist, with the help of his goal posts, weathered the storm – until O’Neill struck.
Notes: It was the seventh time in their nine games the Leafs had outshot their opponent . . . Toronto had a 34-30 edge in hits . . . The Leafs won 56 per cent of faceoffs . . . The Rangers had lost four of their previous five after opening their season with two wins . . . The Leafs wore their vintage sweaters for the second time this season . . . Dawes was drafted in the not-so-long-ago times when most small forwards were shunned in the early rounds of the entry draft. The Rangers used their fifth-round choice, 149th overall, to get him in 2003 . . . The Ottawa Senators visit on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET).