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McDonagh scores game-winner in Rangers' OT win

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK - A pair of New York Ranger defensemen seized control late in regulation and again in overtime, delivering a 4-3 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday in a game with playoff implications at Madison Square Garden.

Ryan McDonagh scored the game-winner off a rebound from fellow defenseman Dan Girardi's shot 1:56 into overtime. It was McDonagh's 13th goal of the season.

Girardi, not known for his offense, tied the game at 3-3 at 16:52 of the third period when he deflected McDonagh's blast from the right point. It was Girardi's fifth goal and first since Feb. 7. It was also McDonagh's 100th career point.

"If you are going to score in this league, you need your backend," said Rangers coach Alain Vigneault of his defense. "Both Mac (McDonagh) and Dan (Girardi) were at the right spots at the right time. In order to get on the score sheet and score some goals in this league, your defensemen need to chip in."

The win provided the Rangers (40-29-4) with two valuable points, keeping them in second place in the Metropolitan Division, ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers, whom the Rangers host Wednesday.

The one point keeps Phoenix (34-26-12) in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, ahead of Dallas and Vancouver.

Phoenix (34-26-12) got a strong effort from goaltender Mike Smith, who stopped 25 shots before leaving in the third period with a leg injury. The 32-year-old Smith was making his 12th straight start for the Coyotes. He was also in the Phoenix net for 15 consecutive games from Feb. 1-March 4.

Smith left the game with 7:34 to play after Rangers center Derick Brassard landed on him in the crease. He was replaced by Thomas Greiss, who allowed the tying and winning goals.

"It's never good seeing a starting goalie like that get hurt," Girardi said. "I was on the ice, he (Smith) kind of made some noise. It's tough to see that, but we knew right away we had to get lots of shots on net.

"He (Greiss) has been sitting on the bench for 2 1/2 periods, so obviously we wanted to get as much rubber as we could at him."

Coyote coach Dave Tippett said Smith is being evaluated for a lower-body injury.

"We'll find out more about it later on tonight," said Tippett, whose team finishes off the three-game road trip at Pittsburgh and New Jersey.

Phoenix snapped a 2-2 tie in the second period. The puck slid off New York left winger Chris Kreider's stick as he was trying to wrap up Coyotes center Kyle Chipchura on a counter attack. Chipchura was credited with the goal, his first in 56 games, at 16:51, from defenseman Zbynek Michalek.

Brassard tied the game at 2 for the Rangers with his 17th goal of the season at 10:53 of the second period. Brassard scored from the right circle after getting his own rebound. He has four goals in his last four games.

New York center Brad Richards had cut the Phoenix lead in half at 2-1, deflecting left winger Carl Hagelin's shot from the high slot at 6:10 of the second period. Richards broke out of an 11-game scoring drought with his 17th of the season.

The Rangers lost the momentum created by honoring their goalie Henrik Lundqvist before the game, falling behind 2-0 in the first period. Lundqvist became New York's all-time winningest goalie with his 302nd win March 18 at Ottawa and set the franchise mark with his 50th shutout March 22 at New Jersey.

"I think we all felt like we came out a little flat," admitted Lundqvist. "For me personally, it was definitely a challenge to be in the right mindset after a ceremony like that. The way it started with the ceremony was just a memory for life.

"To see my parents walking out there and my wife and kid was a very special moment in my career."

Center Jeff Halpern gave the Coyotes a 2-0 edge at 8:22 of the first period. He received a backhand pass from Chipchura behind the net and one-timed it from the slot for his fifth goal of the season and second in the last four games.

Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson rifled a wrist shot over Lundqvist's left shoulder racing down the right wing untouched. The power play goal at 4:40 of the first period gave Phoenix a 1-0 lead. It was Ekman-Larsson's 13th goal of the season, tying his career-high. The Coyotes own the league's third-best power-play unit, scoring on 20.8 percent of their chances.

New York failed to capitalize on two power-play opportunities in the first period.

NOTES: New York was without D John Moore, who suffered a concussion Friday. ... Phoenix LW Lauri Korpikoski was scratched after a puck struck him in the head during the morning skate. ... Coyotes D Keith Yandle is third among NHL defensemen in assists with 43. ... New York RW Martin St. Louis has not scored a goal in 11 games since being traded from Tampa Bay on March 5. He was on the ice for just 11:04 against Phoenix, while battling the flu... Phoenix G Mike Smith is first among goalies in games played at 61. ... New York G Henrik Lundqvist is one of six active goalies with at least 300 wins. ... Rangers D Raphael Diaz skated in just his second game since being traded from Vancouver on March 5.
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