In a game that was like a tense chess match, K’Andre Miller made the final move for checkmate.
The former first-round NHL draft pick scored his first goal of the season with 1:12 left in overtime to give the New York Rangers a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks in a nail-biting game on Saturday night.
“It’s always good to get the first one out of the way,” said the six-foot-five defenceman. “I thought we had great team effort from start to finish.”
Miller scored after taking a pass from left-winger Chris Kreider and burying a shot behind Canuck goaltender Casey DeSmith.
While the Rangers celebrated, Canuck fans howled their frustration feeling the play happened after a missed interference call on Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson.
“It was a chess match,” said Vancouver coach Rick Tocchet. “We didn’t give much.”
Penalties played a big part in the game. All three New York goals came on the power play. Twice New York had two-man advantages.
Mika Zibanejad gave New York a 3-2 lead late in the third period after the Canucks were called for too-many men.
“I don’t think we got up to the level of play that we want to, but that’s going to happen,” said Zibanejad, who scored his first goal of the season and collected two assists. “I’d rather talk about a game that we didn’t play our best and still got the two points than the other way around.”
Carson Soucy tied the game for Vancouver with a blast from the blue line at 15:42 of the third period.
Early in the three-on-three overtime Vancouver’s Andrei Kuzmenko made a nice move around the Ranger defence and forced goaltender Igor Shesterkin to make two saves. Kuzmenko later shot wide on a breakaway.
Zibanejad and Adam Fox scored power-play goals 1:03 apart in the third period. Artemi Panarin scored the other Rangers goal on a first-period power play.
The Rangers (6-2-0) extended their winning streak to four games.
J.T. Miller, on the power play, and defenceman Tyler Myers scored short-handed for the Canucks (5-2-1). The Canucks, who had beaten the St. Louis Blues 5-0 Friday night, saw a three-game winning streak snapped.
Defenceman Filip Hronek had two assists for the Canucks, who lost for the first time at home in three games.
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DeSmith stopped 20 shots while Shesterkin made 30 saves.
Mayer’s short-handed goal gave Vancouver a 2-1 lead midway through the third period. The big defenceman intercepted a pass at his own blue line, skated up the ice, went in on net with a two-on-one with Sam Lafferty and then beat Shesterkin on the stick side.
The goal came with the Canucks killing a double minor after Phillip Di Giuseppe was called for high-sticking Zibanejad.
“I thought we played a really solid game as a group,” said Myers. “I didn’t think we gave them much.”
Quinn Hughes was frustrated over the point that got away, but satisfied with the way his team played in the second of back-to-back games.
“On a back-to-back usually we come out flat,” said the Canuck captain. “When we get tired in the second or third, mistakes kick in. There was none of that.
“For us, if we’re going to play like that in a lot of back-to-backs, or games in general, we’re going to be in a pretty good spot toward the end of the year.”
Tocchet shrugged when asked if he thought the too-many-men call at 11:51 of the third was deserved.
“It was a tough one,” he said. “It (refereeing) is a hard job. It’s tough out there, bang-bang plays. These guys are working their asses off. I thought it was a good game.”
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