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Rangers rally to beat Habs in OT

by Brian Compton
Brendan Shanahan scored 1:06 into overtime to lift the New York Rangers to a thrilling 4-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens at Madison Square Garden.
Better late than never.
Once again, the New York Rangers rallied for a victory. This time, Chris Drury scored with 5:51 left in the third period ( 700K ) before Brendan Shanahan beat Cristobal Huet 1:06 into overtime ( 700K ) as the Blueshirts won their third straight with a 4-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night.
Drury was able to send Shanahan in on a breakaway in the extra session, and the latter was able to use his deadly wrist shot from 15 feet out before Montreal defenseman Roman Hamrlik could catch him.
“I don’t know how I ended up so open at the end,” Shanahan said. “I knew that Hamrlik was kind of changing from my left hip to my right hip, so I had to get it away quickly.”
Daniel Girardi gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead 10:14 into the opening period ( 700K ). With the teams at even strength, Girardi took a pass from Scott Gomez and fired a shot from the right point that beat a screened Huet. It was Girardi’s seventh goal of the season.
Andrei Kostitsyn tied the game with his first of two power play goals at 18:03 of the first ( 700K ), but Jaromir Jagr regained New York’s lead just 17 seconds later when he took a feed from Gomez and fired a wrist shot past Huet ( 700K ) to make it 2-1.
Kostitsyn knotted things up again on the man advantage with 5:29 remaining in the second period ( 700K ). After Martin Straka was whistled for hooking, Kostitsyn fired a shot from close range past Henrik Lundqvist to make it 2-2 for his ninth goal of the season. Tomas Plekanec gave the Canadiens their first lead of the night less than three minutes later, when he was left all alone at the right circle to one-time a feed from Kostitsyn past Lundqvist ( 700K ) as Montreal took a 3-2 lead into the second intermission.
Moments after Sean Avery nearly tied the game when his shot went off both the crossbar and far goalpost, Drury tied the game for the Rangers when he flipped a loose puck over Huet to make it 3-3. It was his 10th goal of the season.
''We are disappointed that we lost a point,'' Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said. ''We were there right to the end. We had chances to put it away when it was 3-2, and we couldn't do it. It was a lot of young guys against an experienced team. I thought we played probably one of our best games this year.''
''I didn't see the shot, but I saw it go at the net,'' Drury said. ''I think the whole game felt like a playoff game, how the crowd was during the anthems and all. It was exciting.''
The MSG crowd certainly was excited to see the Blueshirts end 2007 by rallying for their third straight win. The Rangers return to the ice on Wednesday night, when they begin a three-game trip to Western Canada at Calgary.
“The way the division’s going, these points are crucial,” Gomez said. “You can’t afford a slide. Good teams got to find a way to come back in the third, and we’re doing that.”
The victory certainly gives the Rangers a reason to smile as they ring in the New Year in the Big Apple. Shanahan hopes 2008 will bring more chemistry on the team’s top lines, and more importantly, more victories.
“Three wins is three wins,” the veteran forward said of the team’s current streak. “It’s a great feeling when you win. It means we can enjoy New Year’s in New York City. We want to start playing our kind of hockey and pile the wins together.”
Montreal returns to the ice on Thursday night against the struggling Tampa Bay Lightning at the Bell Centre. Huet is confident the Canadiens will build off a six-game road trip that concluded with Sunday’s OT loss. Montreal finished the trip with a record of 3-2-1.
''We got eight points out of 12, so we're happy with that,'' Huet said. ''Of course, you want all 12, but we're satisfied with how it turned out overall.''

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.

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