Zibanejad's SO winner helps Rangers snap two-game skid, top Canadiens 4-3
MONTREAL — The New York Rangers never held the lead on Thursday night and yet they escaped with the win.
Mika Zibanejad scored the shootout winner to lift the Rangers to a 4-3 comeback victory over the Montreal Canadiens. New York snapped a two-game losing streak, while handing the Canadiens a fifth straight loss.
“Right now it's a much better feeling,” said Rangers forward Artemi Panarin. “It doesn't matter if it's a shootout or not, two points are two points so we just take it and keep going.”
“We're up and down all night, we just kept battling back and fortunately for us, at the end of the day we got to two points,” added Rangers coach Gerard Gallant. “Didn't play a perfect game but we created some good offence and some key guys scored for us tonight."
Patrick Kane scored his first goal in his third game as a Ranger. With the monkey off his back, the newest Broadway star can now focus on gelling with his new teammates.
“The first two games, with not much practice time having some time off away from the rink, it probably could have gone a little bit better,” Kane said.
“But it’s nice to get a few practices in and obviously it was a long, long four to five days just waiting for this one to try and get going here and get back on the scoresheet. So, nice to get one.”
Alexis Lafreniere and Jacob Trouba added the others in regulation for New York (36-19-9).
Panarin collected three assists and Igor Shesterkin made 23 saves.
“I think (Montreal) played really well,” said Lafreniere. “We gave them maybe a little too many, two-on-ones, three-on-twos and (Shesterkin) was good for us tonight. So it's good to get the win.”
Kaiden Guhle, Alex Belzile and Josh Anderson scored for Montreal (26-33-6), which got 30 stops from Sam Montembeault.
Habs coach Martin St. Louis shared his pride for his team's performance despite yet another round of injuries. Anthony Richard was called up earlier Thursday after Christian Dvorak was deemed unavailable to play. Jordan Harris, who also missed the game, was replaced by Chris Wideman in the lineup.
“We learned this morning that (Dvorak) and (Harris) wouldn’t play, some guys came in and we still kept at it,” St. Louis said. “(Tierney) has more minutes, he takes it up a notch and the train keeps moving forward.
“What we’re trying to build is very encouraging because our collective game is showing that it’s tougher than any individual.”
Guhle broke the ice 35 seconds into the game when he batted home a loose puck floating in mid-air.
He then took a slashing penalty, allowing the Rangers to level the score at 3:16 of the first period. Lafreniere tipped Adam Fox’s point shot for his fourth goal in the last five games.
The Canadiens regained the lead when Belzile beat Shesterkin with a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle at 17:02. The 31-year-old bagged his fourth goal of the season and his third in as many games.
Trouba tied the game 48 seconds into the second period when his wrister from the right faceoff circle beat Montembeault glove side.
Anderson restored the Canadiens' edge with a short-handed goal at 13:20 of the second.
Chris Tierney stole the puck from Kane in the defensive zone and skated away on the rush, drawing two players to his side before sending a saucer pass for Anderson, who bagged his 19th of the season.
Kane responded on the very same power play at 14:31 with a swift wrist shot from the left faceoff circle that beat Montembeault over his left pad.
In overtime, Fox took a holding penalty with 1:27 remaining. Montreal's Rafael Harvey-Pinard redirected a shot from Mike Hoffman on the power play but it ringed off the crossbar, leaving the game tied.
Montreal failed to score on all three shootout attempts, while Zibanejad netted the lone marker.
Following the game, the Canadiens announced that Kirby Dach will be out indefinitely with a lower-body injury. Montreal also announced that Brendan Gallagher will miss three to four weeks with a lower-body injury. In addition, Arber Xhekaj underwent shoulder surgery on March 1 and is expected to be ready for the start of training camp next season.
PANARIN JOINS SELECT TRIO
Panarin recorded his seventh 70-point season in his first eight campaigns. He became only the third undrafted player to reach the milestone, along with Hall of Famers Wayne Gretzky and Peter Stastny.
1500 GAMES FOR REFEREE
NHL referee Marc Joanette oversaw his 1,500th career game. The native of Verdun, Que., was presented with personalized Canadiens and Rangers jerseys by St. Louis and Gallant. Joanette was also honoured by the Canadiens during a television timeout in the first period.
The Canadiens welcome the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.
The Rangers will travel to Buffalo to take on the Sabres on Saturday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 9, 2023.
Tristan D'Amours, The Canadian Press