It's hardly ever easy for the Rangers. Coming off an impressive 4-0 win over the San Jose Sharks on Monday, the Rangers had to turn it on late to get past the Arizona Coyotes, who had lost three straight games, by scoring three times in the third period for a 4-1 win Thursday night at the Garden.
Defenseman Keith Yandle, in his first game against his former team since he arrived in New York in a trade March 1, scored the third goal on a blast from the left point on the power play that bounced off defenseman Connor Murphy and past goalie Mike Smith at 6:24.
"I tried not to think about it [playing against his former teammates]," Yandle said. "It was a little bit emotional, but after the first couple shifts it was fine."
Yandle's first goal of the season came nearly four minutes after the Rangers (5-2-1) broke a 1-1 tie. J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes harassed Smith into a misplay behind his net. Hayes spun in front to score on a backhander into the vacated net at 2:35. Miller, who was credited with six hits in the first period, picked up an assist, his fifth of the season.
By that point, the Coyotes (3-3-1), who had dressed seven defensemen, were down to 10 forwards. Antoine Vermette left the game with a lower-body injury during the second period and did not return.
With less than a minute left, Rick Nash was hooked by Mikkel Boedker on a breakaway with an empty net and was awarded the goal, his first of the season.
Klas Dahlberg had put the Coyotes ahead 1-0 at 15:34 of the first period beating Henrik Lundqvist, who had a clear view of the shot, with a wrister from the left circle off the rush. Rookie Max Domi, the son of former Ranger Tie Domi, set up Dahlberg.
But Lundqvist, who did not play against the Sharks, didn't allow another goal, finishing with 34 saves. One of his best came late in the third when he sprawled to knock away a chance at the left post.
"Not a lot of intensity in the first 20 minutes," said Lundqvist, who said he was "a little slow to react" to the Coyotes' goal. "They shut it down after that. We just had to stay patient. After we tied the game, I felt like we got energized, playing a faster game. They made a couple mistakes and we took advantage of it."
Chris Kreider's first of the season, on a headfirst dive and tip of Mats Zuccarello's pass past Smith at 10:06 of the second, tied it 1-1. Marc Staal found Zuccarello, who played a strong game, racing up the right wing.
During a scrum with 9:52 left in the first, the puck slid under Smith but never appeared to cross the goal line. The on-ice call of no goal was supported upon review.
The Coyotes didn't have a shot until 5:14 left in the first, a Shane Doan wrister that Lundqvist easily gloved. The Rangers had six shots at that point, and the Coyotes ended up blocking nine others by the end of the period and 15 after two.
Through two periods, the Blueshirts were 0-for-2 on the power play, and had killed both Coyotes power plays. The Rangers controlled play for the first five minutes, but the Coyotes got their second power play at 7:15 when Yandle was called for tripping Toby Rieder.The Rangers had their first power at 10:34 of the second as Rieder tripped Jesper Fast in the offensive zone. Yandle, playing the point with Dan Boyle, didn't create much. The second Rangers' power play came at 15:01, with Nicklas Grossmann whistled for interference when Hayes tried to curl past him on the right wall. With 1:20 to play, Doan, on Lundqvist's right, found Boyd Gordon in the slot, but Lundqvist denied him with a blocker save. The Coyotes led in shots 19-16.