New York, NY – Mats Zuccarello scored the lone goal in the shootout to give the New York Rangers a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in a key late-season clash from Madison Square Garden.
Carl Hagelin and Ryan McDonagh each recorded a goal and an assist in regulation to help the Rangers bounce back from a 4-3 setback to the Leafs in Monday's opener of the home-and-home series between the clubs and move New York into a tie with Ottawa and the New York Islanders for the final three playoff spots in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Rangers will face the Islanders in Uniondale on Saturday.
"I'm happy they grinded away and found a way," Rangers head coach John Tortorella said of his team. "It's a good team we were playing, but I'm happy they found a way to get two points."
Henrik Lundqvist came up with 23 saves before turning back all three Toronto skaters in the deciding phase.
Fresh off a two-goal, one-assist performance in Monday's triumph, Phil Kessel potted both Toronto markers in the loss. James Reimer finished with 26 saves for the Maple Leafs, who had won five of their last six coming in.
Toronto still managed to register a point for the 11th time in 12 outings, having gone 7-1-4 over that strong stretch.
Kessel's second goal of the night, a tap-in off James van Riemsdyk's centering feed during a Toronto rush, forged a 2-2 tie with just over eight minutes elapsed in the third period, and Reimer sent the contest into extra time with several critical saves during the final stages of regulation.
Lundqvist produced a big stop of his own in overtime, stoning Nazim Kadri from point-blank range with less than two minutes to go to bring about the shootout.
After both teams failed on their initial opportunities, Zuccarello put New York ahead with a wrist shot through Reimer's legs. Kadri then got Lundqvist out of position on Toronto's second chance, but had the puck slide off his stick.
Reimer kept the Leafs alive with a diving rejection of Ryan Callahan with his left skate, but Lundqvist got his pads down in time to block Mikhail Grabovski's try to give the Rangers the two points.
"The save he made in overtime was just humongous," said McDonagh of Lundqvist. "I think after that he in himself wanted to make sure we got that second point in the shootout, and he did a great job there as well."
The Rangers trailed 1-0 at the midway stage of the second period before pulling even on Hagelin's ninth goal of the season. Reimer made a kick save on a McDonagh shot from the left point, but the Swede was perfectly positioned at the doorstep of the net to bang home the resulting rebound into an open right side with 9:05 remaining in the frame.
McDonagh put New York on top just under six minutes later with a long wrist shot that beat Reimer glove-side through traffic.
Toronto owned an 11-8 shot advantage in a scoreless first period, then went on top early in the second when Kessel forced a turnover in the New York zone and chipped the puck over Lundqvist's glove 1:42 into the middle session.
Zuccarello's goal was his first in the NHL since March 19, 2012 against New Jersey. He began this season playing in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League before rejoining the Rangers in late March ... Rangers center Derek Stepan assisted on Hagelin's tally to extend his point streak to six games (four goals, five assists) ... Van Riemsdyk now has notched two goals and three assists during a four-game point streak ... Lundqvist permitted two goals or fewer for the 11th time in 12 starts, having gone 7-3-2 over that span.