Lafreniere scores in OT to lift Rangers over Flames 5-4
NEW YORK (AP) — Alexis Lafreniere scored 1:37 into overtime and Jaroslav Halak made 28 saves as the New York Rangers beat the Calgary Flames 5-4 on Monday night.
Lafreniere led a 2-on-1 rush and then tracked down the rebound of Mika Zibanejad's shot, beating netminder Jacob Markstrom for his seventh goal this season. That ended a frenzied game that was tied four times and featured several fights following big hits — two by Rangers captain Jacob Trouba.
“Getting the game-winning goal in OT is always fun,'' the 21-year-old Lafreniere said. ”It was a great up-and-down game with two really good goalies. It was fun to play."
Calgary’s Andrew Mangiapane and Michael Stone scored two minutes apart early in the third period to give the Flames a 4-3 lead, but Zibanejad scored his second goal of the game — his team-leading 24th — to tie it for the fourth time at 12:55.
Filip Chytil also scored twice for the Rangers, who improved to 9-2-3 in their last 14 games and are 17-4-3 since Dec. 5.
Halak has won six straight and seven of his last eight appearances.
Zibanejad put New York ahead 3-2 with 14 seconds left in the second but Mangiapane scored at 6:38 of the third to tie it. The play was reviewed to determine if Mangiapane kicked in the puck with his skate, but the goal stood.
“It wasn't pretty at times. ... It was a hard battle. We just kept going,'' Zibanejad said. "It was a big two points and a great way to come back from the break."
Zibanejad's first goal came as he roofed the puck past Markstrom on the power play with assists to Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin. The assist was Panarin’s 300th point with the Rangers.
Chytil opened the scoring at 5:37 of the first, rifling a high shot past Markstrom. Kaapo Kakko and Adam Fox assisted.
Calgary forward Blake Coleman tied it at 10:25 with his 11th goal.
There were several skirmishes in the first as both teams were playing for the first time since Jan. 27 following the All-Star break.
“It wasn't a great hockey game, but it was an exciting game,'' Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. "It was different — a bunch of fights going on. ... Maybe the break was too short."
Trouba tussled with Calgary’s Chris Tanev after the defenseman leveled Flames forward Dillon Dube with an open-ice check.
Later in the first, several fights ensued after Rangers forward Sammy Blais drilled Flames forward Milan Lucic. New York rookie Will Cuylle fought Calgary’s MacKenzie Weegar, and Lucic was assessed an extra two minutes for roughing against Rangers forward Jake Leschyshyn.
“Exciting game. Fun game. I thought we were valiant to come back," Flames coach Darryl Sutter said. “I thought we played really well. ... There were three or four hits. They were clean, big hits.”
Chytil put the Rangers ahead 2-1 on a breakaway at 2:02 of the second. Fans at Madison Square Garden chanted the 23-year-old Czech forward's name after his second goal.
“That’s cool, feels very good,” he said. “It motivates me to be better the next shift and show what I can do."
Chytil has a career-best 18 goals and 31 points this season. He has six goals in his last four games and 14 points — 10 goals — in his last 12 games.
Calgary’s Tyler Toffoli tied it at 2 with his 19th goal on the power play at 16:45 of the second.
Trouba struck again with just under a minute left in the second, body-checking Nazem Kadri hard in the Rangers zone, then fighting Dube who rushed to his teammate's defense. Dube received an extra two-minute penalty for instigating, and Zibanejad scored the go-ahead goal on the ensuing power play.
NOTES: Zibanejad’s 83rd power-play goal for the Rangers moved him ahead of Phil Esposito and Jean Ratelle into a tie with Vic Hadfield for sixth place on the franchise list. … Calgary scratched defensemen Dennis Gilbert and Connor Mackey, plus forward Brett Ritchie. … The Rangers scratched forwards Julien Gauthier and Vitali Kravtsov, plus defenseman Libor Hajek. ... The teams meet again Feb. 18 in Calgary.
Flames: Visit the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday.
Rangers: Host the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday.
AP NHL: www.apnews.com/hub/NHL and www.twitter.com/AP_Sports
Allan Kreda, The Associated Press