Rangers Edge Maple Leafs in OT – Georgiev Makes 55 Saves

TORONTO — Ryan Strome scored in overtime as the New York Rangers snapped a five-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory over Toronto on Saturday.

Frederik Andersen had just made an amazing save on Boo Nieves on a two-on-one but the puck went to Strome who stuffed it in at 1:48. 

With another stellar performance in goal until finally beaten in the third period, New York’s Alexandar Georgiev looked to have continued his mastery over the Maple Leafs.

Trailing 1-0, the Leafs finally beat Georgiev at 8:33 of the third after a rush by Morgan Rielly opened up the Rangers defence and John Tavares fed Hyman for his 19th of the season into a wide-open net. It was Toronto’s 33rd shot on the night.  

Pavel Buchnevich had ended a scoreless deadlock 19 seconds into the third, beating Hyman to the puck in a mass of bodies in front of Andersen after a Brady Skjei shot from a bad angle produced a fat rebound. It was Buchnevich’s 18th goal of the season.

New York Rangers right wing Pavel Buchnevich Kevin Shattenkirk
New York Rangers right wing Pavel Buchnevich celebrates with Kevin Shattenkirk (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)

Tavares was hurt later in the third, sent flying by a Marc Staal cross-check in front of goal. The star centre skated off slowly, hunched in pain after finally being helped to his feet. Staal was penalized on the play. Tavares returned for the power play, almost scoring.

Georgiev, a second-year Bulgarian-born goalie, had a career-high 55 saves — second-most in a regular-season game in Rangers history — in a 4-1 win over the visiting Leafs on Feb. 10 (his 23rd birthday). That included 25 power-play shots.

Mike Richter made 59 stops in an overtime tie against the Vancouver Canucks in 1991. But the 55 saves were a Madison Square Garden record by a Ranger goaltender (in just his 12th start there).

Georgiev faced 43 shots Saturday. The Rangers had 25 shots.

Toronto was coming off a 4-2 win Wednesday in Buffalo but had lost five of its last eight (3-4-1). The Leafs had given up the opening goal in their last six games (2-4-0).

Already eliminated from playoff contention, the Rangers had lost five straight and 11 of their last 12 (1-6-5). They had also suffered three straight road defeats.

Georgiev came into Saturday’s game with a 3.11 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage in 27 appearances this season.

New York Rangers Alexandar Georgiev
New York Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

He had stopped 86 of 91 shots in his two previous career appearances against the Maple Leafs.

It was his 11th start in the Rangers’ last 22 games. Three out of his last five starts had needed more than the regulation 60 minutes.

Georgiev was busy from the get-go before 19,251 at Scotiabank Arena, forced to stop a dangerous wrist shot from Auston Matthews on the Leafs first shot. Toronto outshot New York 6-1 to start.

The Rangers began to fight back, tying the shot count at 7-7. Matthews had two more good chances on a late power play in the period. Toronto outshot the Rangers 13-11 in a sloppy first period that saw New York win just 24 per cent of faceoffs.

It was more of the same in the second with Toronto outshooting the visitors 9-2 to start the period. Georgiev was rock-solid, however, with a highlight-reel pad save on Hyman from point-blank range.

The Rangers muffed a 2-on-0 chance late in the period when Mika Zibanejad lost control of the puck, allowing Andersen to grab it.

Toronto had a 24-18 edge in shots after 40 minutes and held a 59-43 edge in shot attempts.

Andersen returned to the Toronto goal after Garret Sparks started in Buffalo. He had been pulled in two of his last three home outings (losses of 6-2 to Tampa and 5-4 to Chicago and a 7-6 win over Philadelphia).

Andersen stopped 48 of 62 shots over that stretch, a save percentage of .774. His save percentage for the season was .918 prior to Saturday.

Leafs centre Frederik Gauthier, returning after a two-game absence due to a foot injury, appeared in his 100th career NHL game.

The Rangers were missing Chris Kreider, Jesper Fast, Connor Brickley, Fredrik Claesson and Libor Hajek. But Staal returned to action.

The Leafs were without defencemen Jake Gardiner and Travis Dermott.

On Monday, Toronto hosts Florida while the Rangers entertain Pittsburgh.

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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press