OT win gives Rangers se­ries lead over Habs

The Daily Courier - - SPORTS - By The Cana­dian Press

MON­TREAL — It of­ten comes down to bounces in a close NHL play­off se­ries and Mika Zibane­jad got a big one.

The New York Rangers for­ward was in the right spot when Chris Krei­der’s shot went off Alexei Emelin’s stick and went to him for a shot into an open side at 14:22 of over­time on Thurs­day night.

The goal lifted the Rangers to a 3-2 vic­tory over the Mon­treal Cana­di­ens with a chance to close out the best-of-seven East­ern Con­fer­ence quar­ter-fi­nal on Satur­day night in New York.

“Krei­der came in and tried to shoot,” said Zibane­jad. “I just tried to get to the net and it took a for­tu­nate bounce for us.

“I just tried to whack it to the net and then I kind of blacked out. I can’t re­mem­ber much af­ter that.”

Af­ter that he was mobbed by his team­mates for putting the fin­ish­ing touch on a come­back win that saw the Rangers fall be­hind 2-1 in the first pe­riod but tie the game late in the sec­ond on a goal from de­fence­man Brady Sk­jei.

“It was nice,” said Zibane­jad. “My first play­off over­time goal. “It’s huge to get the win. At this point of the play­offs you don’t care who scores.”

Fourth liner Jes­per Fast got his sec­ond of the se­ries for New York, while Art­turi Lehko­nen scored and set up a goal by Brendan Gal­lagher for the Cana­di­ens, who had a 33-26 shot ad­van­tage in reg­u­la­tion time but saw New York out­shoot them 10-3 in over­time.

It seemed to be a mat­ter of time be­fore the Rangers scored.

“A guy tries to shoot and it goes off a stick right to Mika — that’s a sum­mary of play­off hockey right there in over­time,” said Rangers de­fence­man Dan Gi­rardi. “It’s not go­ing to be a per­fectly clean tic-tac­toe play. It’s go­ing to be some­thing off a stick or a body in front.

“It was nice that it was a clean goal and we were able to cel­e­brate it and en­joy it.”

It was a game of two halves, with Mon­treal con­trol­ling most of the first 30 min­utes be­fore the Rangers took over with a strong check­ing and counter-at­tack­ing game.

The Cana­di­ens, who once led the se­ries 2-1, will be look­ing for more from some of their top play­ers in a Game 6 elim­i­na­tion game. Cap­tain Max Pa­cioretty has taken heat for not scor­ing a goal yet in the se­ries. He looked to have the game on his stick dur­ing a third pe­riod break­away but was stopped by Hen­rik Lundqvist.

But Mon­treal coach Claude Julien said he’s not the only one.

“In or­der to get through this, we’ll need more from a lot of guys,” said Julien. “It’s time for cer­tain play­ers to el­e­vate their game and have that con­fi­dence and de­sire to be bet­ter.

“There’s no doubt when you lose games and you’re be­hind 3-2 you can’t be sat­is­fied as a team. There’s cer­tain play­ers as we all know that can give us more, and hope­fully that’s go­ing to hap­pen.”

The Cana­dian Press

New York Rangers cen­tre Mika Zibane­jad scores in over­time past Mon­treal Cana­di­ens goalie Carey Price as de­fence­man Jordie Benn looks on dur­ing Game 5 of their NHL play­off se­ries Thurs­day in Mon­treal. The Rangers won 3-2 and lead the se­ries 3-2.

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