New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Lee Stempniak's second goal of the game, which came with 2:14 remaining, lifted the New York Rangers to a 4-3 come- from-behind victory over the Arizona Coyotes in a matchup of teams headed in opposite directions.
Stempniak's two scores and Chris Kreider's second power-play tally of the night enabled the Rangers to overcome a 3-1 deficit after one period and record their fourth straight win, dealing the scuffling Coyotes an eighth consecutive loss in the process.
Kevin Hayes added two assists and Cam Talbot came up with 37 saves for New York, which improved to 8-0-1 in its last nine and moved into a tie with the Islanders atop the Metropolitan Division. The Rangers own two games in hand on their crosstown rivals.
Arizona was dealt another defeat despite a two-goal effort from Sam Gagner and Mike Smith's 34 saves, with Mark Arcobello also scoring in the setback.
Stempniak began the Rangers' comeback with a successful redirection of John Moore's wrister 5:33 into the second period, then later put his team on top for the first time of the evening with the clock winding down in the third.
Hayes won a faceoff in the Arizona zone before setting up the game-winner with a shot that Smith stopped, but Stempniak was left all alone to roof the rebound over the prone Coyotes netminder.
"We executed well, got the puck in the blue paint and (I) was able to get a stick on it," Stempniak said. "Just got in front of the net and Kevin put it right on my tape and I had enough time on it to get a rebound."
Talbot, who turned aside 14 chances in the third period, was able to withstand some late pressure with Smith pulled to protect the one-goal edge.
Kreider knotted the game at 3-3 on a breakaway score just 11.3 seconds prior to the intermission, beating Smith 1-on-1 on a second chance after racing in when Coyotes defenseman Connor Murphy misplayed the puck in the Rangers' end.
"We continue to shoot ourselves in the foot," said Smith. "We had a 3-1 lead, at that point in the game it's a 3-2 lead, and it was under a minute left in the period and a faceoff in their end, and somehow they get a breakaway. We continue to make tough decisions at tough times in games and it ends up in the back of the net."
New York was able to stay within one by killing off a double-minor high- sticking penalty to Kevin Klein earlier in the period.
The Coyotes hadn't scored more than two goals in any of the previous games of their skid, but put up three during a wide-open first period. Two of those scores came on an extended power play near the end of the session, with Gagner accounting for both.
His well-placed blast into the top right corner of the New York net on a 5- on-3 snapped a 1-1 tie, and Gagner struck again less than 1 1/2 minutes later with Arizona on a one-man advantage. Collecting a puck sent towards the net from teammate Mark Stone, he turned and fired it past Talbot with just 39.3 seconds remaining in the period.
Arcobello got the Coyotes off to a fast start by taking a give from David Moss and rifling a shot by Talbot just 41 seconds in. The Rangers pulled even on a power play with 8:11 elapsed when Kreider tapped in Hayes' pass across the crease on a 2-on-1.
"I was amazed that the pass got through," said Kreider of Hayes' feed. "If it was back door they would have picked me up, but I was lucky enough it got through."
The game was the first involving the Rangers where two players recorded a pair of power play goals since an Oct. 20, 2005 clash against the Islanders. Jaromir Jagr accomplished the feat for the Blueshirts and Mark Parrish did so for the Isles ... Rick Nash returned to action for New York after sitting out Tuesday's 1-0 win over Calgary with neck spasms ... Stone finished with two assists ... The Rangers went 2-of-3 on the power play after failing to score in 15 chances with the man advantage over their last six outings ... Henrik Samuelsson, the Coyotes' 2012 first-round pick and the son of Rangers assistant Ulf Samuelsson, made his NHL debut ... The Coyotes have lost six straight and 15 of their last 17 visits to Madison Square Garden.