Different night, different opponent, different texture to the game entirely. But on a night full of emotions from start to finish at Madison Square Garden, the ending was exactly the same.
Two days removed from their captivating four-goal comeback win in Montreal, the Rangers once again clawed back from behind to win a thriller: This time they scored the game-tying goal with under three minutes to play against the Minnesota Wild, then won it on the opening shift of overtime, a 3-2 victory at Madison Square Garden on an evening that began with moving pregame ceremonies on Hockey Fights Cancer Night, continued with a welcome back to an old friend, and finished with a happy Blue mob celebrating near center ice.
"Pretty encouraging game, I think," said Chris Kreider. "And obviously a pretty fun finish."
The fun finish was one of the things that the two comebacks in three nights had in common; another was Kreider being right in the middle of it, this time scoring the power-play goal that leveled the score with 2:50 left. Once overtime arrived, Tony DeAngelo took advantage of Minnesota's perfectly understandable preoccupation with Artemi Panarin and walked in to beat Alex Stalock 32 seconds into the 3-on-3, sending the Blueshirts pouring off the bench to celebrate their third straight win at the Garden, which on Monday was a thundering contrast to the stunned silence of the Bell Centre two nights before.
And when they came pouring off, they took their celebration straight to Henrik Lundqvist, who stopped 26 shots - half of them in the third period - to secure career victory No. 455, breaking his tie with Curtis Joseph and moving Lundqvist into the Top 5 in wins in the history of the NHL.
"It was a good night for sure. For many reasons. But I just like the way we played tonight," Lundqvist said afterward. "We kept pushing; in the end, we don't give up. It's a great sign for this group."
Panarin, meanwhile, once again had his fingerprints all over a victory, assisting on each of the Rangers' goals while acting as the decoy for DeAngelo to skate into all kinds of space for his decisive score. What's more, Panarin took and won the opening faceoff in overtime, against Jared Spurgeon, moving his career record in faceoffs to 4-18 but an all-important 1-0 as a Ranger.
"He took it against a defenseman," Kreider pointed out with a laugh. "But he still won it."
Once he did, the Rangers never surrendered possession. Panarin and DeAngelo ran a crossing pattern near the Minnesota line with Ryan Suter and Joel Eriksson Ek defending, and getting the puck to Panarin at first was the only thing on DeAngelo's mind, until all of a sudden it wasn't.
"Both guys went to Bread. I was actually getting ready to drop it off to him, then I didn't," said DeAngelo, whose goal was his seventh this season. "A lot of focus on No. 10 there. It was good to get some open space and finish it off."
"It was a little bit of a parting of the Red Sea," Quinn said. "If he had passed it, I would have thrown up on the bench. I'm glad he didn't."
There may have been a little nausea on the Minnesota side, though, because despite earning a point for the sixth straight time (3-0-3), the Wild have now gone back-to-back games losing a lead in the final three minutes of regulation, then falling on a defenseman's goal in overtime - Boston's Torey Krug on Saturday, DeAngelo on Monday.
In fact, two of the Rangers' three goals were scored by blueliners, with Brady Skjei - following up the dynamic game he played in Montreal - opened the scoring on Monday with a long wrist shot for his third goal of the season and third point in the last two games. On the play, Skjei took advantage of the opposing winger having to ditch a broken stick, allowing Skjei to skate to the middle and attack the net.
That winger happened to be Mats Zuccarello, the man who played nine seasons as a Ranger and made an emotional return to the Garden to play against them for the first time. Zuccarello received a rousing ovation when a video tribute to him was played during a first-period stoppage, then went on to finish minus-1 in 14:48 on ice.
Lundqvist considered it a blessing that his friend never got a chance after regulation time, in particular not in a shootout. "Yeah, it crossed my mind, I'm not gonna lie," the goaltender said. "I was excited and happy that we ended it right away. It would have been a long season, a long summer, if he came out there and scored. Would have changed my number probably."
Minnesota got its goals from Zach Parise, who scored on one of only two Wild shots in a second period dominated by the Rangers, and from Ryan Donato, who was Adam Fox's teammate at Harvard and who scored in the third period to give the Wild their first lead, a superb drag and shot at the 10-minute mark on the nose.
In these last two games, the Rangers' reaction to allowing that kind of goal has been different. "There was a level of confidence. I don't think our guys got rattled," Quinn said. "I thought we responded well -- I just like how we kind of adapted after we get down 2-1."
The Rangers might have tied it far earlier than they did if not for Stalock keeping out Pavel Buchnevich three times in quick succession, to Buchnevich's visible disbelief. Instead, once Skjei drew a penalty for the second time in the game, the Rangers' power play went to work, Panarin firing a pass off the left wall for Strome in the middle that went softly on goal, where Stalock helplessly left a rebound at Kreider's feet.
"You can just feel us growing as a team," Quinn said after this victory. "If you're going to have success, you need togetherness, and just because you're in the same jersey doesn't mean you're a team.
"You can just feel it: We're becoming more of a team, and not because we didn't want to be a team -- I just think when you put a bunch of people together for the first time, you're trying to find out what your role is going to be. I think there's starting to be clarity there. And I think our guys feel good not only about themselves, but I think guys feel good about each other."