There are games during the course of a season where teams win despite not bringing their A-game, and others where the result doesn't represent the effort put forth by the loser.
Thursday in Toronto nearly represented that for the Rangers, who controlled the play for most of their tilt with the Maple Leafs but had nothing to show for it until J.T. Miller scored with 9:10 remaining in the third period to tie the game, 1-1.
Mats Zuccarello and Mika Zibanejad would each score in the shootout and Henrik Lundqvist was able to stop Nazem Kadri in the third round to lift the Rangers to a 2-1 win over the Maple Leafs to move into third in the Metropolitan Division.
The Rangers did everything but score over the game's opening 50 minutes but did not have an answer for Toronto netminder Frederick Andersen, who was superb in making 37 saves save in the loss.
Video: NYR@TOR: Miller slams home a rebound to tie the game
But Miller finally poked home a loose puck inside the crease for his 19th goal of the season to get the Rangers on the board.
"Goalies when they're standing on their heads, you don't get the tic-tac-toes to go in," Miller said. "I thought we did a good job of getting guys to the paint and getting numbers on the forecheck."
Video: NYR@TOR: Lundqvist turns aside Matthews' OT breakaway
Overtime saw both teams trade chances, including two breakaway saves for Henrik Lundqvist, first on Leo Komarov and then on rookie star Auston Matthews in the dying seconds.
"Stop it," said Lundqvist when asked what he was thinking on both saves. "I tried to keep my focus real simple right now. It's been paying off the last few weeks."
It sure has. Since leaving Toronto with a 5-2 win on Jan. 19, Lundqvist - who made 32 saves - is 10-2-1 with a 1.91 GAA and a .939 SV% with one shutout.
Miller and Rick Nash each had breakaway opportunities as well in overtime but Andersen too stood tall.
"It's pretty fun to watch," Miller said of the three-on-three. "It's nerve wracking when they're going the other way 1-on-0. Hank made some unbelievable saves and so did their guy. It's pretty fun to watch when it's just three guys on each team."
Zuccarello scored on the Rangers' first attempt, and Zibanejad followed with a goal of his own in round two. After Matthews beat Lundqvist with a wrist shot glove side, the netminder stopped Kadri for the victory.
Video: NYR@TOR: Lundqvist denies Kadri to seal shootout win
Toronto opened the scoring 10:56 into the game on a goal by Connor Brown. The tally appeared to be enough to win it thanks to Andersen, who had stops on Zuccarello on the doorstep early in the game, and later robbed Michael Grabner with the pad.
New York outshot Toronto 38-31 on the night and out-attempted the Leafs 86-56. Forty-eight hours after the Rangers felt they deserved more than just a point in a shootout loss to Montreal, leaving Toronto with less than two points would have stung.
"Going into overtime, I do have a short memory but I definitely remember losing in the shootout here the other night at home," Lundqvist said. "I didn't want to come up short twice in here in two days so it felt really important to come out with a win. We did some really good things tonight."