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Zibanejad's Heroics Lifts Rangers to Overtime Win Over Habs in Game 5

Rangers return home with 3-2 series edge

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

MONTREAL - For the second time in as many games at the Bell Centre, the Rangers and Canadiens needed more than 60 minutes to decide a game.

But unlike Game 2, the Rangers were the victors thanks to Mika Zibanejad's goal with 5:38 remaining in overtime that now gives New York a chance to close out the series Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

Chris Kreider picked up the puck just inside the Rangers' zone and carried it into Montreal's end. The winger fired a puck towards the net that was blocked by Alexei Emelin, but the puck found its way onto a streaking Zibanejad's stick, and the center buried it past Carey Price for the win.

"Blacked out to be honest with you," Zibanejad said when asked about the feeling of scoring his first playoff overtime goal. "Great feeling to get the win and get that goal, personally as well. A little bit of revenge from last overtime. It's just an awesome feeling."

Video: NYR@MTL, Gm5: Zibanejad buries one-timer for OT win

The goal was both euphoric and a relief for Zibanejad, who was unable to tie up Alexander Radulov in overtime of Game 2. Despite the disappointment of that game, he said he's been pleased with his game and that of his line with Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich since the trio was put together for Game 4.

"I felt like I got a little bit of revenge from the last overtime here," he said with a smile. "Even last game I felt our line was coming together and personally coming together to my game and to our game better."

Montreal struck first when Artturi Lehkonen's wrap around would find room between Henrik Lundqvist's pads with 7:53 remaining in the opening period.

Video: NYR@MTL, Gm5: Fast buries Zibanejad's feed for SHG

The Rangers evened the score with a shorthanded goal by Jesper Fast. With Kevin Hayes in the box for holding the stick, Zibanejad carried the puck into Montreal's end and fed Fast with a pass in the slot, who then beat Price five-hole with 4:04 left in the opening frame.

The tie was short-lived, though, as Brendan Gallagher's wrist shot from the high in the slot beat Lundqvist just 26 seconds after Fast's goal to put the Canadiens back in the lead.

The Blueshirts got into penalty trouble early in the second, first with Ryan McDonagh for slashing and then Zuccarello immediately following with a high-sticking call. But the Rangers survived the extended penalty kill and a lopsided second period that saw Montreal outshoot New York for most of the period.

"That was huge," said Dan Girardi, who logged 4:32 of shorthanded ice time. "If they get one there we're in a deep hole in a tough building against a tough team to play against. That was obviously big momentum for us."

Brady Skjei was able to even the score before the second period ended. Jimmy Vesey controlled the puck along the half boards and fed Rick Nash below the goal line. The winger drove to the net and was denied by Price, but Skjei was there to bury the rebound with 1:32 left.

Lundqvist saved his best stops for last and also got a bit of luck in the process. Phillip Danault nearly put the Canadiens up a goal early in the third period when he hit the post on a shorthanded 2-on-1 break.

Video: NYR@MTL, Gm5: Lundqvist denies Pacioretty's break

But it was Lundqvist who denied Max Pacioretty on a breakaway moments later to help send the game to overtime.

Lundqvist, who made 34 saves, said despite no matter how well a team is playing, overtime often comes down to a single moment.

"In overtime, it doesn't matter if you have all the pucks and all the chances; It comes down to one big play and if you don't make it they're going to make it sooner or later," said Lundqvist, who earned his 58th Stanley Cup Playoff victory.

Zibanejad and the Blueshirts will enjoy the victory tonight, but know the fourth victory in any playoff series is always the most difficult.

"It was a nice way to end this game," he added, "but we've got a job to do as well with our home game here and try to end the series."

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