Zibanejad in right place at right time for New York
Ten minutes into an overtime period that was totally dominated by the New York Rangers, Chris Kreider, yet to score in this series, had the winning goal on the blade of his stick — only to fan on a pass from Mika Zibanejad.
And so, four minutes later, it was likely poetic justice when Zibanejad scored his first goal of the post-season — coincidentally, on a pass from Kreider, who led the Rangers with 28 goals this season.
“It’s a great feeling to get that win and to get that goal, personally. It was a little bit of revenge from the last overtime,” said Zibanejad, who scored 14 goals and 37 points in 56 games during the regular season.
Kreider’s cross-ice pass deflected off the stick of Alexei Emelin. Zibanejad, meanwhile, was in behind defenceman Jordie Benn. He beat goaltender Carey Price high to the stick side at 14:22. It was the first overtime goal of the Swede’s career.
“Kreider came in and had somewhat of a shooting lane. I just tried to get to the net,” Zibanejad explained. “It took a fortunate bounce for us. I just tried to whack it. When I saw it go in, I just blacked out. I can’t remember much after that.”
Although both teams produced seven shots in the third period, there was a sense the Rangers were starting to take control of the game. Indeed, halfway through the period, the Canadiens were still seeking their first shot. In the 17th minute, Price made a nice pad save on Nick Holden.
The visitors continued attacking Price in waves throughout the overtime, outshooting the Canadiens 10-3. New York truly deserved to win this game.
“We weren’t happy with the start of the second period,” Zibanejad said. “We turned a lot of pucks over on the blue-line. They were getting pucks deep and made us work for it. We had to do the same. We took over the last five or six minutes of the period. The third was ours and overtime as well.
“It’s huge to get the win and it’s nice to do it. But at this point of the playoffs you don’t really care who scores, just that you get the win. It’s a great feeling.”
For Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, the game was a stark contrast from the second match in Montreal that also was decided in overtime. That night, an exhausted Lundqvist faced 58 shots.
This game, however, was different. Nonetheless, had Lundqvist not made a stick save on a Max Pacioretty breakaway in the 13th minute of the third period, the teams likely wouldn’t have required the extra session.
“Obviously if I didn’t make that save ...” Lundqvist said, not needing to complete the sentence. “I didn’t see a lot of action until then. When we went to overtime, we wanted to win this game — and we showed it. We pushed.”
Lundqvist said he doesn’t enjoy overtime, mentioning how nerve-racking it can be.
“I don’t know if it’s good for your heart,” he quipped.