Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rangers Get 2-1 Victory in Shootout Stepan Notches Winner for No. 1 Team in League

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rangers Get 2-1 Victory in Shootout Stepan Notches Winner for No. 1 Team in League

Article excerpt

New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was about to skate off with his team down to its last shootout chance against the visiting Phoenix Coyotes. Then, he realized sharpshooter Marion Gaborik was poised at center ice.

Gaborik did not disappoint Lundqvist, scoring to keep the shootout going and leading to Derek Stepan's sixth-round winner that lifted the Rangers to a 2-1 victory against the Coyotes. It was New York's fifth consecutive win and 10th in their past 11 games.

"The percentage when you have to score in the shootout isn't good but Gabby has come up with big goals for us all season," said Lundqvist, who won for his seventh game in a row. "I felt like we deserved to win this game because we played really well."

Stepan beat Phoenix goalie Mike Smith high to the glove side before Lundqvist stopped Coyotes captain Shane Doan to secure the win. The Rangers improved to 27-9-4 for a league-leading 58 points, the team's best start since 1993-94 when they won their last Stanley Cup.

Smith made a spectacular stick save on Gaborik's penalty shot at 3:10 of overtime. Gaborik went to the forehand and, seemingly, had Smith beat, but the goaltender somehow got the handle of his stick on the pick as he sprawled to his right.

Lundqvist made key saves on Ray Whitney and former Ranger Lauri Korpikoski in the last minute of overtime.

"Being able to win a game like this is so important for our confidence," Lundqvist said. "We stayed focused and got it done."

The Rangers continued their strong play at Madison Square Garden, improving to 13-3-2.

"We had guys step up at key times and we found a way to win," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "Smitty [Mike Smith] played well, but Henrik played really well. This was one of those games where we just had to stick with it."

After two scoreless periods, Ruslan Fedotenko put New York ahead at 2:27 of the third with his sixth goal this season. Phoenix's Radim Vrbata tied it with his team-leading 20th with 9:23 remaining in regulation.

Other games

* Islanders 5, Red Wings 1: John Tavares had a goal and assist in the second period, shortly after being struck in the head with a puck, and Evgeni Nabokov made 23 saves as host New York beat Detroit. …

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