NEW YORK, N.Y. – Henrik Lundqvist already knows the joy of getting a lucrative contract extension. Who knew that one week later, a win at Madison Square Garden would bring the star goalie pure jubilation.
When Lundqvist turned aside Mikael Backlund in the seventh round of the shootout Sunday night, he and the rest of the New York Rangers had a long-awaited 4-3 victory over the Calgary Flames and an end to a four-game losing streak, all at home.
Lundqvist, who stopped 18 shots through overtime, spread his arms and looked up to the ceiling as his teammates raced from the bench to meet him at the end of the 0-3-1 skid.
“It was just a big relief to get two points,” said Lundqvist, who earned just his second win since agreeing to a seven-year contract extension. “I had a chance to close it out twice and I didn’t do it. Finally we ended the game.”
Benoit Pouliot scored the fourth goal of the Rangers’ first shootout of the season to give them their first win on a team-record, nine-game homestand.
“I just had a feeling that if we don’t win this one, I’m not going to be a happy guy,” Lundqvist said. “It’s a big win for us. Right now, you have to look at it as taking baby steps in improving and start winning. You can’t turn this around right away.
“You start with one period, then two periods, then a game. Then you start feeling good about yourself.”
Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin scored to erase the Rangers’ early 2-0 deficit, and Chris Kreider made it 3-3 with 7:53 left in regulation as New York improved to 2-15 in games in which it allowed the first goal.
“That’s a picture we’ve seen,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said about the early deficit. “We stuck with playing a pretty solid defensive game. We weren’t giving them much, and we spent a lot of time in their end.
“We got a couple of goals and just kept plugging away.”
Rookie centre Sean Monahan gave Calgary a 3-2 lead at 4:44 of the third but the Flames couldn’t stretch their winning streak to three.
The 19-year-old Monahan chipped a shot from in close off a feed from behind the net from Curtis Glencross for his 10th goal and third in his last seven games. He missed seven games because of a broken foot, and returned to the lineup Saturday for the Flames’ win at Buffalo.
Backlund and Glencross scored in the first period, Jiri Hudler had two assists, and Karri Ramo made 29 saves through overtime.
“It was a big battle all night,” Ramo said. “Not happy about the goals I allowed. Sometimes you just have to take the point and move on.
“We played good enough to win. They were a desperate team.”
The clubs played a frantic final few minutes of regulation when the Rangers were given power plays 40 seconds apart after Mike Cammalleri was sent off for roughing, and Ramo was called for delay of game when he whacked a rebound out of play.
That advantage was short-circuited right when Cammalleri’s penalty ended when Kreider was given four minutes for high-sticking Chris Butler.
The Rangers got it to overtime, with Calgary still having 2:04 left on its power play.
“Thought we’d get it done in overtime, but we couldn’t execute on the power play,” Flames captain Mark Giordano said. “We’re not happy with the point. It should have been two.
“If you get a power play in overtime, you should win.”
The Flames had won their first two since general manager Jay Feaster and assistant GM John Weisbrod were fired Thursday.
New York tied it at 2 at 7:29 of the second on Hagelin’s sixth goal. Hagelin got to a rebound, swung around the net and stuffed a shot inside the right post.
The Rangers again had a rough first period, but it was actually a better start than in their previous game—holding the Flames to two goals. The Rangers trailed Columbus 3-0 in the opening frame on Thursday, and Lundqvist was chased from the net 11:10 into the 3-2 loss.
Calgary got the quick jump when Backlund scored at 7:28, just five seconds into a power play after Kreider was sent off for interference. Backlund won a faceoff in the left circle and moved into the slot, where he deftly tipped in Hudler’s shot for his fourth goal.
The Flames made it 2-0 with 5:00 left in the period. Hudler weaved his way in close and made a short backhanded pass to Glencross, who used his own backhand to beat Lundqvist for his sixth goal.
The announcement of Glencross’ goal was only halfway finished when Stepan brought a roar from the crowd with his sixth of the season 25 seconds later. It was Stepan’s first goal in 11 games.
NOTES: Stepan earned his 100th NHL assist on Kreider’s goal. … Giordano played in his 400th NHL game. … Calgary’s previous four games were decided by 2-1 scores. … The Rangers used seven defencemen and only 11 forwards in their lineup.