Monday, December 16, 2013
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Rangers end skid with shootout win over Flames

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[December 16, 2013]  NEW YORK, N.Y.  Two nights after Miley Cyrus played Madison Square Garden, the New York Rangers halted the Wrecking Ball that has marked the home portion of their 2013-14 season.

Whether it was temporary change or permanent remains to be seen.

"We have to take it day by day," right wing Derek Dorsett said, a few minutes after left wing Benoit Pouliot scored the game-winning goal in a seven-round shootout to lead the Rangers to a 4-3 win over the Calgary Flames Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.

"Get as many wins as we can here before Christmas."

Center Derek Stepan, left wing Carl Hagelin and right wing Chris Kreider scored in regulation for New York, which ended a four-game losing streak. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist stopped 18 of 21 shots.

Center Mikael Backlund, left wing Curtis Glencross and center Sean Monahan scored during regulation time for Calgary, which fell to 13-15-5. Karri Ramo made 20 saves for the Flames.

Left wing Mats Zuccarello, center Brad Richards and center Dominic Moore also scored in the shootout for New York. Center Joe Colborne, right wing Lee Stempniak and center Paul Byron scored in the shootout for the Flames.

Sunday night's game was the first this season that went to a shootout for New York. Calgary has been involved in four shootouts.

After Pouliot scored the Rangers' fourth goal of the shootout, Lundqvist stopped a shot by Backlund to give the Rangers the victory.

"It was just a big relief to get two points," Lundqvist said. "I had a chance to close it out twice and I didn't do it. Finally we ended the game."

The shootout came after a wild third period and overtime session that saw the teams exchange goals and momentum swings.

Monahan's goal 4:44 into the third period broke a 2-2 deadlock. The sequence began when the line of Monahan, Glencross and center Jiri Hudler won a battle for a loose puck. Monahan, the sixth overall pick in June's Entry Draft, cut toward the middle of the ice without being picked up by a New York defender and snapped in his 10th goal of the season.

But Kreider drew the Rangers even at 3-3 with 7:53 left when he backhanded a Stepan rebound past Ramo.

The game remained tied through the overtime period, but both teams had chances to score during Calgary's four-minute power play spanning the last 1:56 of regulation and the first 3:04 of overtime.

"Our guys did what they have to do," New York coach Alain Vigneault said of the penalty-killing effort. The Rangers killed four of Calgary's five power plays. "They blocked some big shots. They did a real good job."

The Flames held a 2-0 lead in the second period.

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Backlund opened the scoring 7:28 into the match with his fourth of the season. The goal came five seconds after Kreider was penalized for interfering with Calgary defenseman Mark Giordano.

Glencross increased Calgary's lead to 2-0 seven minutes, 32 seconds after Backlund's game-opening tally. Glencross tapped Hudler's goal-mouth feed past Lundqvist to conclude a sequence that began when New York defenseman Anton Stralman committed a defensive zone turnover.

Stepan cut the deficit in half at 15:25 of the first with a drive that beat Ramo stick side. The goal was Stepan's sixth of the season. Hagelin tied the game at 7:29 into the second when he curled around the net and tucked the puck into a half-empty goal.

"We had a real good first period," Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. "We came out hard and had a lot of chances. In the second period, we let them come at us and we spent a lot of time in our end. In the third period, it was pretty much just an even game."

The Rangers credited rookie defenseman Dylan McIlrath's second-period fight with Flames right wing Brian McGrattan as being inspiration. The two heavyweights fought for an extended period in the Calgary defensive zone before being escorted to the penalty box.

"(McGrattan) is probably the toughest guy in the league (so) for (McIlrath) to be a young guy in his second game in the NHL (and) fight in the middle of the ice shows a lot of courage," Rangers center Derick Brassard said. "It brought emotion to our bench."

NOTES: The seven New York Rangers who have populated the team's third and fourth lines entered Sunday night's game with a combined 14 goals and 23 assists over the season's first 33 games. "If you're going to win in this league on a consistent basis, you need contributions throughout your bench," Vigneault said before the game. "Third and fourth line, obviously, need to find a way to chip in. Sometimes it's making a good defensive play and sometimes it's getting on the score sheet." " ... Sunday's game was the second of five in a row on the road for the Flames, who entered the night with a 6-7-3 mark away from Calgary. The Flames topped the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 in overtime Saturday afternoon. "We haven't played many (back-to-backs)," Flames associate coach Jacques Cloutier said. ... New York dressed seven defensemen. The scratches were RW Arron Asham and LW Taylor Pyatt. Calgary's scratches were D Christopher Breen, LW T.J. Galiardi and RW David Jones. ... The teams meet once more this season, March 28 at the Saddledome in Calgary. ... After a technician's walkie-talkie went off during his postgame press conference, Vigneault quipped he envisioned former Rangers head coach John Tortorella telling the assembled media, "I'm (out of) here."

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