- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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WHAT IT MEANS: The Rangers won for the third straight game as they bested the Coyotes in the shootout, 4-3, Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers (20-13-1) never led in regulation, rallying from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits for the win.
BIRON THE STOPPER: The Rangers only scored once in the shootout, on a goal by Eric Christensen, but goalie Martin Biron made it hold up. Biron stopped Lee Stempniak, Radim Vrbata and Eric Belanger in order to seal the win. His most impressive stop came against Vrbata as Biron used a kick save with his left leg to prevent the goal. Belanger didn't even manage a shot on the final attempt.
While Biron emerged a hero, it didn't seem likely at the beginning. He allowed two goals in the first six minutes and the fans started chanting "Henrik! Henrik!" for Rangers starting goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Biron, though, settled down and made some big saves to keep the Rangers in the game down the stretch. He saved 30-of-33 shots.
"I look at Marty Biron just as that's a capsule of how we play," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "After a start with people chanting for (Lundqvist), it's a hard thing and he battled through it and made some key saves at some times and found a way to win which was an important part of it at the end with the shootout."
FIRST ONE IS MEMORABLE: Derek Stepan finally scored his first goal at Madison Square Garden and it came at great timing as the rookie tied the game with 5:43 remaining. With the Rangers trailing 3-2, Michael Rozisval took a deep shot that Stepan believed deflected off Sean Avery to Phoenix goalie Jason LaBarbera. With the puck lying under LaBarbera's knee pad, Chris Drury knocked it from its lodging to Stepan who put home his eighth goal of the season.
"It's the first one so it's definitely special," Stepan said. "That's a big time goal, I think tying the game up that was the first thought, hey that's a big-time goal in a 3-2 game."
HOW TO HUSTLE: Brandon Prust’s incredible display of hustle to close the second period netted the Rangers their second goal and changed the whole complexion of the game.
With the Coyotes on the power play at the close of the second period and leading 3-1, Dan Girardi, who scored the Rangers first goal on a power play in the first period, cleared the puck and Prust raced after it at the other end. LaBarbera was not able to control the puck in the corner as Prust approached retreated back to the goal. Prust took the puck and raced toward the goal, where LaBarbera was unsettled, and beat the Coyotes goalie for the score with 5.1 seconds left in the second period.
Said Prust: "Going into the third period only down one instead of two, it's a big difference."
COYOTE POWER: The Rangers entered the game having held opponent scoreless on their last 56-of-63 power play attempts, but allowed goals on 2-of-4 power plays for Phoenix. Phoenix scored its first and third goal on power plays.
THE STREAK LIVES ON: The Rangers are still unbeaten in the second game of back-to-back contest. The Rangers are now 9-0-0 in the second games, including 4-0-0 at home. The Rangers are now 18-2-2 in the second game of a doubleheader over the past two seasons.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Rangers head to Philadelphia Saturday night to take on the Atlantic Division leading Flyers. The Flyers, who lead the Rangers by six points in the division, bested New York 4-1 the last time the two teams meet on Nov. 4 in Philadelphia.