Derick Brassard's breakaway goal with 12.9 seconds remaining in overtime lifted the Rangers to a thrilling 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the Detroit Red Wings Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena. The dramatic win sends the Rangers flying back to New York where their home opener awaits Monday night at the completely-transformed Madison Square Garden after a brutally difficult nine-game road trip.
The win was the Rangers' first in Detroit since January 30, 1999, and was the first of Cam Talbot's NHL career. Talbot, making his second consecutive start in goal in the place of the injured Henrik Lundqvist, made 32 saves to backstop the heart-thumping win, including 15 in the first period of play and another ten in the third period. The Rangers fired a season-high 40 shots at Howard.
The Rangers did not allow the Red Wings a shot on goal during overtime, while taking three on Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard. The last of those ended up in the net on a last-minute rush up ice in which New York's Benoit Pouliot dove to poke the puck past two Red Wing defenders and send Brassard in on a breakaway. Brassard beat Howard through the pads for his first goal of the season, giving the Rangers a well-earned victory in their first overtime game of the season.
Pouliot scored a goal to go along with his clutch assist. Mats Zuccarello also scored for the Rangers, who closed out their season-opening road trip with a 3-6-0 record.
Trailing 2-1 entering the third period the Rangers did not waste much time before pulling even for the second time in the game. Zuccarello---back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch Thursday night in Philadelphia---converted a rebound of Dominic Moore's shot at 2:18 for his first goal of the season, tying the score 2-2. It was a big-time effort as Zuccarello desperately lunged at the loose puck and was falling down as he shot it towards the net.
Seven minutes later Talbot made sure that the score remained tied when, at the end of a Red Wings power play, he first stopped a heavy Daniel Alfredsson slap shot, and then stoned Johan Franzen twice on point-blank rebound tries.
Despite controlling play for parts of the first period and nearly the entire second stanza, the Rangers arrived at the first intermission trailing the Red Wings 2-1, based largely on a pair of rare mistakes on their part. The second of those goals was not only the difference through two periods of play, it was a crushing goal scored with only 11 seconds remaining in that middle period.
A little more than two minutes after Pouliot had tied the game, Alfredsson whizzed a power play shot past Talbot to once again land the visitors in a one-goal hole. The most frustrated and angry player in the building at that moment had to be veteran winger Taylor Pyatt, whose holding penalty just 72 seconds after Pouliot's uplifting score set the stage for the Red Wings to regain the lead.
Up until Pyatt's penalty the Rangers had dominated Detroit in the middle stanza, in the end outshooting their hosts 16-8 over those 20 minutes of play. However Howard thwarted the the Rangers Grade A scoring chances time and again---whether it was flinging his blocker up in the air to snuff out a point-blank rebound try by Brian Boyle, or just getting his shoulder in the way of Brassard's rising snap shot off a breakaway attempt, or expertly using his pads to rob Zuccarello on a gorgeous redirection in front.
The Rangers finally broke through at 17:20 of the second period when Pouliot scored his first goal as a Ranger, slipping a power play rebound past Howard--who was down and partially in his own net after stopping Boyle and Ryan McDonagh in front. Prior to that goal, the Rangers had scored just once in their previous 183 minutes and 29 seconds of play.
The first period was an exciting back-and-forth battle in which Detroit emerged with a 16-13 advantage in shots, and a 1-0 lead on the scoreboard despite an inspired effort by the visitors. Chris Kreider and Derek Dorsett were both consistently tenacious on the forecheck, and both had a pair of prime scoring chances denied by Howard in the opening period. Anton Stralman added a team-high four shots on goal in that opening 20 minutes.
Talbot more than held his own in the first period, looking especially sharp during an early Red Wings power play when he made four saves. He calmly gloved down long range shots through traffic by Alfredsson and Niklas Kronwall, but really shined with an outstanding pad save on Todd Bertuzzi from out in front. He also stood out with the Rangers on the power play midway through the period making a pair of clutch stops on shorthanded opportunities for Detroit's Kyle Quincey and Franzen.
Detroit opened the scoring at the 17:12 mark of the first when a Zuccarello turnover led to a Detroit 3-on-2 rush the other way. It was capped by Drew Miller's unassisted goal, his first of the sason, off a snap shot from the left circle.