In what had been an extremely tight contest throughout---one that featured superb goaltending on both sides---it was only fitting the Rangers fifth consecutive victory would not be sealed until Henrik Lundqvist made one more save. And in the sixth round of the shootout, after Derek Stepan had beaten Mike Smith a moment before, Lundqvist made a pad stop on Shane Doan to finalize the Blueshirts 2-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
With the victory, the Rangers upped their point total to 58 on the season, most in the National Hockey League. They have now won ten of their last 11 games.
Lundqvist and Smith engaged in a phenomenal goaltending duel on Tuesday, with Smith the busier of the two during regulation and overtime, stopping 31 of 32 Ranger shots, while Lundqvist---who has won his last seven starts---kicked out 18 of 19. The 31st and most memorable of Smith's saves came with 1:50 to go in overtime when he made an unbelievable diving save with the paddle of his stick on Marian Gaborik's penalty shot attempt.
Gaborik, however, redeemed himself moments later when--with the Blueshirts down1-0 in the shootout--he burst towards Smith at full speed then beat the Coyotes netminder between the pads in the third round to save the game for the Rangers. Three rounds later Stepan scored over Smith's glove, and Lundqvist made it stand up with his save on Doan.
Ruslan Fedotenko had scored his sixth goal of the season 2:27 into the third period to snap a scoreless deadlock. But Radim Vrbata tied the game with 8:23 left to play when he netted his 20th following a Rangers defensive zone giveaway, eventually forcing overtime.
Brian Boyle, who assisted on Fedotenko's goal---and who also set the screen in front of Smith on the score, played a powerful game for New York, centering what head coach John Tortorella called the Blueshirts most effective line all night long. Boyle finished with five hits and four shots on goal while winning 83% of his faceoffs.