NEW YORK – The New York Rangers are learning to win games from behind.
Brendan Shanahan scored 66 seconds into overtime to give the Rangers a 4-3 comeback victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday night, extending New York’s winning streak to three games.
“You certainly have to be ready to do that,” Rangers coach Tom Renney said about coming from behind. “As much as the game is about Xs and Os, it’s also about heart and desire. There truly is a visceral connection to this game.”
Shanahan was sprung on a breakaway by Chris Drury. He skated straight down on Montreal goalie Cristobal Huet and sent a 15-foot wrist shot over the goalie’s left shoulder 1:06 into the extra period.
“There was a turnover at the blue line, and I moved up,” Shanahan said. “I thought it was going to be a two-on-one, but I didn’t see anyone between me and the net. Drury just laid it over for me, and I walked into it. I felt (Montreal defenceman Roman) Hamrlik coming up from behind, and I tried to get it away quickly. Overtime goals are always fun and exciting.” Huet said he had an idea what Shanahan was going to do, but not when he was going to do it.
“I knew where he would go with the shot,” Huet said. “My problem was I thought he would wait another second before he let it go. He got it off quick, and it got past me.”
Drury tied the game with 5:51 left in regulation when he found a loose puck at the top of the crease and flipped it over a prone Huet.
“I didn’t see the shot, but I saw it go at the net,” Drury said. “I think the whole game felt like a playoff game, how the crowd was during the anthems and all. It was exciting.”
Dan Girardi, who assisted on Shanahan’s goal, and Jaromir Jagr also scored for the Rangers, who got 18 saves from Henrik Lundqvist.
Andrei Kostitsyn scored two power play goals for Montreal, and linemate Tomas Plekanec also scored. Huet wound up with 17 saves as Montreal closed out a six-game road trip at 3-2-1.
“We are disappointed that we lost a point,” Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said. “We were there right to the end. We had chances to put it away when it was 3-2, and we couldn’t do it. It was a lot of young guys against an experienced team. I thought we played probably one of our best games this year.”
Girardi put the Rangers up 1-0 just past the halfway point of the first period. Open at the right point, he took Scott Gomez’s pass and beat Huet with a screened wrist shot. Girardi’s seventh goal of the season came at 10:14.
Gomez extended his point-scoring streak to a dozen games with the assist.
Kostitsyn tied the game at 18:03 on a power play wrist shot from the high slot that beat Lundqvist over his glove hand, but the Rangers went back in front 17 seconds later when Jagr took Gomez’s pass off a rush and sent a wrist shot from the low slot past Huet.
In the second period, Montreal had a chance to tie the game at the end of a power play, but Christopher Higgins’ wrist shot hit the right post.
The Canadiens tied the game at 14:31 with Kostitsyn finishing off a tic-tac-toe passing play in front with a short blast past Lundqvist on a power play. Montreal took its first lead at 17:07 when Plekanec scored on a one-timer from the right circle.
Ryan Holweg had the only Ranger shot on goal in the period, with just under nine minutes left. Montreal outshot the Rangers 7-1 in the middle period.
The Rangers almost tied the game with 6:52 left in regulation, but Fedor Tyutin’s wrist shot hit the elbow of the crossbar and right post and bounced out. It initially was ruled a goal, but was overturned by video review.
Gomez sees his team coming around in adverse situations.
“I think we still have a lot of work to do,” Gomez said. “Good hockey clubs find a way in the third. You’ve got to be able to come from behind in this league, and I think we are starting to show that.”
Huet was satisfied with the road trip, interrupted by the Christmas break.
“We got eight points out of 12, so we’re happy with that,” Huet said. “Of course, you want all 12, but we’re satisfied with how it turned out overall.”
NOTES: The Rangers trail in the series between the two clubs with a record of 183-311-94-1, but are over .500 at home against the Canadiens (121-119-54-1). … Montreal recalled forward Corey Locke from its AHL farm team in Hamilton. Locke had 23 points for the Bulldogs in 30 games. … Canadiens defenceman Andrei Markov limped off the ice midway through the final period after blocking a shot with his left leg. He did return. … Rangers forward Petr Prucha was a late scratch. Prucha took a slash on his left wrist during the final period of Saturday night’s win in Toronto, but skated in the pre-game warmup. … Shanahan had a goal 30 seconds into overtime to beat the New Jersey Devils earlier this month.