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Rangers Comeback in Third to Beat Vegas on Emotional Day at Garden

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

The Rangers rallied from a two-goal deficit with four goals in the third period to beat the Vegas Golden Knights, 6-4, in what was an emotional game following the terrorist attack in lower Manhattan.

"I think our group proved tonight that there's no quit," coach Alain Vigneault said. "Another comeback and this one we were able to pull through. There was a lot of emotion in our dressing room before the game tonight with what happened today in Tribeca."

New York entered the third down 4-2. But the Rangers' power play got the offense going, starting with Chris Kreider converting on a saucer pass by Mika Zibanejad 5:31 into the period that cut the deficit to 4-3.

Video: VGK@NYR: Buchnevich finishes nice pass into open net

Pavel Buchnevich evened the score 4:45 later on a pass by Zibanejad that caught goaltender Maxime Lagace out of position, giving Buchnevich the easy tap-in for the equalizer. Zibanejad finally capitalized on a look of his own when he blasted a slap shot from the circle with the Rangers up a man at 14:11 of the third.

Michael Grabner sealed things with an empty-net goal 1:14 left in the contest.

"We scored on the chances we got," said Zibanejad, who had three points in the third, including his 200th career point on Buchnevich's goal. "It didn't really matter who scored, I'm super happy that we got the win, especially with the situation from earlier today. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of the families. It's a horrible, horrible thing. We talked about that; it was bigger than the two points today. We were trying to play for the whole city and for all of the families involved, and we were able to do that."

Video: VGK@NYR: Zibanejad lasers in PPG on wicked wrister

After spending most of the week talking about how to fix their starts to games, the Rangers jumped out to an early lead when Vesey buried a pass from David Desharnais from being the net to put New York ahead just 2:45 into the contest.

Vegas scored the next two goals before the end of the first period by Oscar Lindberg and Reilly Smith. Zuccarello answered with one for the home team just 1:29 into the second period.

The Golden Knights took the lead again when Smith converted his second of the contest off a scramble in front, and David Perron extended the advantage on a penalty shot goal with 1:01 remaining in the middle frame.

Despite allowing four goals, Henrik Lundqvist made several big saves, especially in the first period, including a pad save on Cody Eakin with the Rangers up a goal. He finished with 30 saves to improve to 3-4-2 on the year.

But life was bigger than hockey today for several Rangers following the terrorist attack that claimed the lives of eight people near the Hudson River in downtown New York City.

"It was emotional for me," Lundqvist said. "Before the game I talked to the group a little bit about the importance of this game. For me, my family is in that area every day. Coming to the game, not knowing if they were safe or not. It was not a good feeling." 

Video: VGK@NYR: Rangers hold moment of silence before anthem

Despite being down two, Lundqvist said he and his teammates felt they'd played better than the score showed. And on a day that hit so close to home, the comeback was a reward for a job well done.

"Going into the third, all our focus and energy was just on leaving everything out there and seeing how far we can push it," said Lundqvist, who with his 408th career victory passed Hall of Famer Glenn Hall for ninth place on the NHL's all-time wins list. "I felt like we had a feeling that we created enough chances to tie it up and even win it, and we did. On a very emotional and tough day, I feel like we did a good job here tonight to get the two points and get it done."

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