Rangers beat Canadiens for 4th straight win


A period after Neal Pionk had showed off his grit by sticking up for a teammate and getting physical, he flashed his flair just in time to lift the Rangers back to .500.

With the game tied late in the third period, the defenseman gathered the puck behind his own net, spun away from a defender and off he went. He wanted to pass the puck but eventually realized he had a step on everyone else and settled for what he called his fifth option, slicing through the Canadiens defense before cutting back to the net to beat goaltender Carey Price.

Pionk’s end-to-end trip finished with the game-winning goal as the Rangers scored four unanswered to win their fourth straight, 5-3, over the Habs Tuesday night at the Garden.

“I knew he was a good skater, I just didn’t know he was Bobby Orr out there,” said Mika Zibanejad, who cleaned up his own rebound to hammer home an insurance goal less than a minute after Pionk’s strike.

“Maybe I did it when I was 8 or 9 years old,” Pionk said. “It came out of me.”

After playing uninspired hockey for most of the first two periods, the Rangers (7-7-1) stormed back for three goals in the third to collect another character-building win for the young team beginning to right the ship.

The Rangers pointed to a talk from coach David Quinn during the second intermission that refocused their efforts in the right direction.

“All I said [was], ‘Don’t come in here and act like you care about it if you don’t put the effort into it,’ ” Quinn said. “You gotta earn victories in this league. I thought we did a pretty good job of that in the third period.”

A 1-1 game got tilted upside down in a second period that included three goals and 11 penalties worth 30 minutes. The Canadiens took a 3-1 lead before the game got chippy and ultimately the tide began to turn in the Rangers’ direction.

The drama began when Max Domi tried to land a big hit on Filip Chytil and Pionk took exception, trying to fight the son of former Ranger Tie Domi. Max Domi didn’t care to dance but then Cody McLeod got involved. The Rangers’ bruising winger delivered a high hit on Jeff Petry on the boards and then tried to fight Mike Reilly. The episode cost him two minutes for charging, four minutes for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct at 8:45.

“[Domi] went to hit Fil, Fil kind of dodged it. I just had to show I didn’t like the hit and had to let him know that,” Pionk said. “It’s something that we talked about early in the year, standing up for each other and making sure we have each other’s backs.”

The Rangers killed off the four-minute penalty, which briefly became a five-on-three before the Canadiens began racking up penalties themselves. The mayhem finally calmed down but not before Tony DeAngelo got the Rangers back within a goal with a rising wrister at 17:45, just one second after their power play had expired.

Pavel Buchnevich tied the game at three at 8:25 of the third period, as the Rangers’ increased physicality began to pay off.

“The first two periods [were] pretty soft and then I thought we dominated there in the third,” said Kevin Hayes, who finished with three assists.

It was an identity win for a Rangers club now back to even standing.

“For us to see the difference — how we played for two [periods] and how we played in the third and how we got rewarded in the third,” Henrik Lundqvist (31 saves) said. “That’s going to help us moving forward.”



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Adam Jacob

Military veteran and medically trained.

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