Kreider ties it in third, Pouliot wins it in shootout for Rangers, 4-3

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Mark Bonifacio/New York Daily News

Rangers winger Benoit Pouliot completes a nice backhand goal past Calgary goalie Karri Ramo in the seventh round of the shootout to give the Blueshirts a 4-3 win.

RANGERS 4, FLAMES 3 (SO)

The Rangers’ many flaws were out in the open for everyone to see again on Sunday night at the Garden, but two pivotal penalty kills and an offensive response to another early deficit helped them advance to their first shootout of the season where they won, 4-3, over the lowly Calgary Flames.

Henrik Lundqvist failed to stop two shootout shots that could have ended the skills competition, but he finally denied Mikael Backlund in the seventh round after Benoit Pouliot had netted a nifty deke.

The Blueshirts (16-17-1) won for the first time in five games over a Flames club that had fired its general manager on Thursday and had played the night before.

Henrik Lundqvist reacts to the shootout win Sunday night.

Mark Bonifacio/New York Daily News

Henrik Lundqvist reacts to the shootout win Sunday night.

The Rangers are 1-3-1 after crossing the halfway point of this nine-game homestand, which continues Wednesday night against the first-place Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Blueshirts fell behind by a score of at least 2-0 for the fourth consecutive game, but they clawed back to 2-2, then overcame a late 3-2 deficit on Chris Kreider’s eight goal of the season to get to overtime. Kreider’s double-minor high sticking penalty gave Calgary a four-minute power play to conclude regulation and start overtime, but New York’s unit shut it down, including a huge save on Curtis Glencross at the doorstep by Lundqvist.

The Rangers’ penalty kill gave up a Flames goal in the first period five seconds into Calgary’s first power play, but went four-for-four the rest of the way.

The Rangers allowed only three Calgary shots on goal in the second period. Speedy winger Carl Hagelin got back to what he does best, carving his name in the ice behind Calgary’s net on the forecheck and scoring his first goal in nine games on a wraparound to tie it, 2-2, 7:29 into the second.

Brian Boyleobliterates Flames defenseman Ladislav Smid with this first-period hit.

Mark Bonifacio/New York Daily News

Brian Boyleobliterates Flames defenseman Ladislav Smid with this first-period hit.

Soon after, a Hagelin penalty led to a pivotal four-on-three penalty kill sequence. Ryan McDonagh blocked three shots, and Henrik Lundqvist made a sweeping glove save on a rising slap shot. The building started to buzz, as if the fans finally saw something they recognized from the good old days just two seasons ago.

Calgary’s Sean Monahan seemingly had squashed the comeback, scoring for a 3-2 Flames lead 4:44 into the third. But then Kreider netted his eighth of the season 12:07 into the third to tie it at 3-3. The Rangers nearly scored on a power play late in regulation, but then the script flipped on a scrum in front when Kreider stabbed at a floating puck and caught Glames defenseman Chris Butler in the face, earning a four-minute double minor for high sticking that bled into overtime.

In an effort to clean up the mess in front of Lundqvist, Vigneault is asking his team to play a safer, “higher-percentage” game until they can get their mojo back. He wants them taking fewer risks. He dressed seven defensemen on Sunday, and split Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi seeking more balance on the blue line with Marc Staal (concussion) still out. Captain Ryan Callahan (sprained left MCL) is on crutches and sidelined until mid-January, but Vigneault did get center Derick Brassard back Sunday after he missed Thursday’s game with a “sore butt.”

Calgary’s Mikael Backlund opened the scoring 7:28 in on a power play deflection, and then Curtis Glencross made it 2-0 Flames 15 minutes in off Anton Stralman’s failed clear. Derek Stepan answered immediately 25 seconds later with his first goal in 11 games. It was a fortunate bounce, a shot that appeared to deflect off both a Calgary player’s stick and another’s leg before beating Flames goalie Karri Ramo.

Still, it was a result of Stepan taking the shot when lately he has opted to pass or whiffed on the attempt. Stepan also hit the crossbar later in the period at the doorstep. The Blueshirts, though, had only six shots on goal through the first period.

The Rangers desperately need to curb their early sluggishness. In the past four games, they have fallen behind 4-0 to Washington, 2-0 to Nashville, 3-0 to Columbus and 2-0 to Calgary.


Daily News – Sports

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