Just 35 seconds earlier, the Rangers squandered their third consecutive 2-0 lead as late-game issues looked as though it would make a strong push toward extending their losing streak to three games.
But with 33 seconds left in the game defenseman K’Andre Miller — who was denied on a breakaway chance just minutes before — snapped home a wrist shot to snap the Rangers’ skid and lift the Blueshirts to a 3-2 victory on Sunday afternoon against the Seattle Kraken at Madison Square Garden.
Mika Zibanejad had a hand in all three Rangers goals, recording a goal and two assists in the victory as his red-hot 18-game stretch rolled on. He’s recorded 12 goals and 14 assists (26 points) during that stretch.
But it was his tripping penalty late in the game that set up Seattle’s equalizer with 1:08 left in the third period when Yanni Gourde lasered the equalizer past Igor Shesterkin — who posted a monstrous 40 saves to preserve the victory for a Rangers team that had been outplayed for most of the afternoon.
Despite getting outshot 14-6 in the first period, the Rangers emerged from the opening frame with a 1-0 lead after cashing in on a power play that has cashed in five times over their last six games.
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A passing clinic with the man advantage led to Zibanejad’s opener with 8:14 to go in the first, one-timing a cross-ice pass from Artemi Panarin just inside the Philipp Grubauer’s right post from the left face-off circle.
With that goal, Zibanejad became just the second Ranger in franchise history to record 10 power-play goals in five straight seasons (Phil Esposito).
He picked up his second point of the afternoon 4:23 into the second period when another one-time attempt rang off the post but fell right to Alexis Lafreniere, who shuffled home the rebound for his first goal in nine games.
Seattle finally came up with a response on their 21st shot of the day — compared to the Rangers’ nine at the time — just 2:54 later when a 3-on-2 rush saw former Islander Jordan Eberle feed Jared McCann for a wrister that just squeaked through Shesterkin to put the Kraken on the board. It was McCann’s third goal in as many games.
The Kraken kept coming in waves but Shesterkin remained too difficult to break down. After they were outshot 11-6 in the second period, the Rangers were outshot at a 13-5 clip through the first half of the third period.
New York had an opportunity to gain some momentum when Artemi Panarin was hooked by Vince Dunn to warrant a power play, but Chris Kreider took a holding penalty just three seconds in on the face-off to cancel out a man advantage.
On the 4-on-4, Eberle was stripped of the puck at the Rangers’ blue line by Miller, sending the blueliner on a breakaway — but his move to the forehand was turned away by the arm of Grubauer.
Just moments later, Zibanejad gave the Kraken one more golden chance to tie it up when he was called for a tripping penalty on McCann, who was attempting to clean up a rebound in front of Shesterkin, with 3:05 to go.
With 1:08 to go and with four seconds left on their power play — and with their net empty — Seattle tied it up when Yanni Gourde from just below the right face-off circle beamed a one-timer just inside the post to tie things up.
On a face-off at the right circle of the Kraken’s zone, Zibanejad’s clean win came to Miller, who had acres of space thanks to a questionable Kreider hit that bordered an interference penalty, and fired home the winner.