NEW YORK — After two lackluster periods, the New York Rangers turned up the intensity in the third and rallied for a needed win.
Mika Zibanejad got the tiebreaking goal with 5:39 left and the Rangers scored four in the final period to beat the expansion Vegas Golden Knights 6-4 on Tuesday night.
Jimmy Vesey, Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, Pavel Buchnevich and Michael Grabner also scored to help New York win for the third time in seven games (3-2-2). Zibanejad also had assists on the first two goals in the third.
“I think we responded great in the third and hopefully we can build off that,” Zibanejad said. “We’ve got to find a way to bring it early on and maintain it to be a little more consistent throughout the game. Hopefully it’s a step in the right direction.”
Reilly Smith scored twice, Oscar Lindberg got a goal against his former team and David Perron converted a penalty shot for Vegas, which has lost consecutive games after winning five straight. Maxime Lagace, the fourth goalie used by the Golden Knights this season, stopped 32 shots in his first NHL start.
Trailing by two, the Rangers received a power play after Perron was whistled for a double-minor early in the third, and Kreider pulled them to 4-3 as he took a pass from Zibanejad and beat Lagace from the left side for his third goal at 5:31.
“Until that penalty, we were in control of the game and playing well,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. “The rest of the period we looked like an expansion team. … We didn’t respond the right way and sat back instead of trying to attack like we did all game.”
Buchnevich tied it nearly four minutes later, taking a pass from Zibanejad on the left side and putting it into the open net with Lagace out of position. It gave Buchnevich a goal for the third straight game.
Grabner added an empty-netter with 1:14 left to seal it.
“I think our group proved tonight that there’s no quit,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “There are some pieces of our game that are real good, others are not Picassos. We’re trying to put it together. We’re trying to work hard. We’ll take the two points tonight and move on.”
Trailing 2-1, the Rangers came out aggressively to start the second period and tied the score at 1:29. Kevin Hayes’ shot from the left side behind the net went off Rick Nash’s skate to Zuccarello, who put it in for his third.
The Golden Knights went back ahead 3-2 at 7:06 as Smith scored on a backhand from the right side for his fourth of the season.
Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist made a pair of sprawling saves on his back with about a minute left in the second, but Perron was hooked by Hayes and awarded a penalty shot. Perron deked and scored five-hole on Lundqvist for his fourth to put Vegas up by two.
“After the first and second, they scored late goals and a team like us in a position we’re in, it can really beat you down,” said Lundqvist, who made 30 saves. “The way the guys came out and competed in the third, it shows a lot about the group.”
Vesey put the Rangers up 1-0 just 2:45 into the game on their first shot on goal.
The Golden Knights tied it as Lindberg scored at 5:22, backhanding the rebound of a shot by Alex Tuch past a sprawled Lundqvist for his fifth.
Vegas took a 2-1 lead with 39 seconds left in the first when Colin Miller’s point shot was deflected in front by Jonathan Marchessault and put in by Smith.
NOTES: Rangers D Brady Skjei played in his 100th regular-season game. … Zibanejad topped 200 career points and has at least one in four straight games (three goals, four assists). … Lundqvist earned his 408th win, moving past Glenn Hall for sole possession of ninth place on the NHL’s career list. … The Golden Knights, who have been active in trying to help the Las Vegas community heal from the mass shooting at the beginning of the month, were staying at a hotel in Battery Park in lower Manhattan near a terrorist attack earlier in the day. Just blocks away, a 29-year-old man from Uzbekistan drove a rented truck onto a bike path, killing at least eight people and seriously injuring 11 others. The team was delayed a little in leaving the area for Madison Square Garden, but arrived about 75 minutes before the start. … Vegas placed G Oscar Dansk on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. G Dylan Ferguson was recalled from Kamloops of the Western Hockey League on an emergency basis to serve as Lagace’s backup. Top goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion) has not been cleared to resume skating, and backup Malcolm Subban (lower-body injury) is also out.
Golden Knights: At Boston on Thursday night in the third of a six-game trip.
Rangers: At Tampa Bay on Thursday night to open a two-game trip to Florida.
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