The Rangers forward scored the OT game-winner in Game 4, ripping a shot from the right circle to beat the Montreal Canadiens rookie and give the Rangers the 3-2 victory in the Eastern Conference Final on Sunday night.
He had been shut out by Tokarski in Game 3 and hadn't connected on his chances in Game 4. But his sixth of the playoffs at 6:02 of overtime gave the Rangers the 3-1 series lead heading back to Montreal.
The Rangers struck first at 7:18 of the first period shorthanded, with Benoit Pouliot in the box for high sticking. Brian Boyle launched a perfect pass from the half boards of the defensive zone all the way to Hagelin’s stick as he streaked ahead of the Canadiens chasing him. He tucked the puck through the pads of Tokarski for the 1-0 lead.
The Canadiens tied the game at 8:08 of the second period on a 2-on-1 snipe by Francis Bouillon. David Desharnais sprung the break after Anton Stralman followed the puck instead of his man in the neutral zone. With Rene Bourque to his right, Boullion snapped a perfect shot over Lundqvist’s shoulder for the 1-1 tie.
Derick Brassard put the Rangers ahead with the kind of breakaway goal you typically see in the 11th round of a shootout from a hands-of-stone fourth liner. Brassard took a Dan Girardi pass from the defensive zone, cruised into the attack zone and raised his stick. Maybe Tokarski was thinking deke, skating out to cut down angles; Brassard wasn’t, simply blasting the puck off the Canadiens goalie’s shoulder at 19:04 for the 2-1 lead.
P.K. Subban tied the game for the Canadiens at 2:00 of the third period, blasting a shot past Henrik Lundqvist for Montreal’s first goal in 16 power-play attempts in the series.
The teams traded chances the rest of the period, including Alex Galchenyuk ringing one off the crossbar with less than three minutes remaining, the puck hitting the goal line and bouncing out of harm’s way.
It was a terribly undisciplined game from both teams, who combined for 13 minor penalties. The Rangers alone had 18 penalty minutes and took seven offensive zone penalties.
Game 5 is in Montreal on Tuesday night.