Updated December 17, 2021 - 8:28 pm
Gerard Gallant, maybe as much as anyone, is responsible for establishing the Golden Knights’ culture of determination and perseverance.
The team’s first coach was given an up-close reminder Friday.
Trailing by a goal late in the third period, the Knights battled back to steal two points from Gallant and the New York Rangers with a 3-2 shootout victory at Madison Square Garden.
Goalie Laurent Brossoit stopped all three Rangers attempts in the shootout, and Jonathan Marchessault was the only player from either team to score as the Knights extended their winning streak to a season-high four games.
The victory pushed the Knights into second place in the Pacific Division, and they moved a season-best eight games over .500. Their 19 wins matches Minnesota and Nashville for most in the Western Conference.
“I liked the resiliency of the group,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “It’s hard to judge them on what the game looked like because I really thought in the second and third we started to run out of some gas based on the road trip we’re on. We did enough to win.”
Despite playing their third game in four nights and coming off an emotional win at New Jersey on Thursday, the Knights found enough in the tank to rally in the third period.
Defenseman Dylan Coghlan scored the tying goal with 5:16 remaining when he fired through a screen past Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev.
“We came in after the second and we weren’t too happy,” Coghlan said. “We needed to get back to the way we do things and try not to do too much. I thought we were trying to force a little bit too much. We just have to keep it simple.”
Gallant was coaching against the Knights for the first time since he was fired Jan. 15, 2020, and replaced by DeBoer.
Rangers winger Ryan Reaves also faced his former team for the first time since an offseason trade from the Knights to New York and finished with a minus-1 rating and six hits.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
1. Howden revenge game
Most of the focus was on Gallant and Reaves trying to get the upper hand on their former club. That overshadowed Brett Howden’s return to New York.
The forward spent three seasons with the Rangers before he was traded in the offseason and produced a goal and an assist in his first game back in New York. He banged in his own rebound to put the Knights ahead 1-0 at 6:49 of the first period and also won the faceoff leading to Coghlan’s tying goal.
“It was a pretty fun night,” Howden said. “Obviously I had a lot of excitement coming back here. I’m just really happy we got the win.”
The Knights’ fourth line was on the ice for both goals in regulation, and scored for the second straight game.
“You’ve got to win all kinds of different ways,” DeBoer said. “Tonight it was our fourth line that was the difference.”
2. Thrilling OT
Once coaches and teams figured out that puck possession is a premium in overtime, most of the excitement from three-on-three play was stripped away.
That wasn’t the case Friday, however. The Knights and Rangers traded scoring chances in the extra session for five minutes without a whistle, combining for 11 shots on goal.
Brossoit made seven stops, including a sliding save against Ryan Strome early. He also and denied Filip Chytil in the final minute.
Knights forward Max Pacioretty had two breakaways but wasn’t able to convert against Alexandar Georgiev.
“Those odd-man rush saves definitely makes you a little warmer for (the shootout),” Brossoit said.
3. Rangers’ response
The Knights were playing the second of back-to-back games and their fatigue started to show in the middle period.
The Rangers regrouped during the first intermission and came back to outshoot the Knights 11-4.
Mika Zibanejad tied the game 17 seconds into the second when he used defenseman Zach Whitecloud as a screen and fired a long shot past Brossoit. Chris Kreider converted midway through to put the Rangers ahead 2-1. It was his 18th goal, and 11th on the power play.
“I thought I saw a little bit of us running out of gas,” DeBoer said. “I thought Zibanejad’s line particularly took a step in the second period. They had us on our heels there for a good chunk of the middle of that game.”