Girardi scores early in 3rd to lift Rangers over Coyotes
NEW YORK (AP) — Dan Girardi returned to the lineup and made himself the difference with one big third-period shot.
Girardi scored 1:55 into the final period, lifting the New York Rangers over the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 on Sunday night.
The goal was the first of the season for Girardi. He put the Rangers up for good with a slap shot from the right point.
“I just buried my head and tried to shoot as hard as I can at the net,” Girardi said. “Good things happen when you put pucks on net.”
The veteran was paired with rookie Brady Skjei in his first game after missing New York’s previous three with a strained groin, and Skjei assisted on the goal.
New York was playing for the second straight night after winning 4-2 at Washington on Saturday.
“The leadership group was trying to preach to the young guys that we (had) a huge win in Washington (but) it means nothing if you can’t back it up with a win tonight,” Girardi said. “We stuck with it and found a way to get two points.”
Josh Jooris and J.T. Miller also scored for the Rangers, who have 12 players with at least one goal this season and 20 players with at least one point.
Henrik Lundqvist made 27 stops for New York.
Radim Vrbata had both of Arizona’s goals, and Louis Domingue made 23 saves. The Coyotes have lost their first four games on a six-game trip since beating Philadelphia in overtime at home to start the season.
“We are learning it is not easy to win in this league,” Vrbata said. “Every mistake we make seems to wind up in our net.”
Vrbata opened the scoring 33 seconds in by deflecting Connor Murphy’s shot from the right point past Lundqvist.
“For the most part there were some real good parts to our game,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “But good parts to your game doesn’t get you a win. We need to find ways to win.”
Jooris got his first goal with the Rangers with 7:47 left in the first. He jammed a puck under Domingue while being knocked to the ice by Lawson Crouse.
New York took its first lead 5:45 into the second when Miller scored his second of the season. With the Rangers on a power play, Miller cut to the net and deflected Ryan McDonagh’s slap shot past Domingue for a 2-1 advantage.
“These points still count at the end of the day,” Miller said. “We did a good job of hanging on and just finding a way to get two (points).”
Vrbata made it 2-2 with 3:42 left in the second.
“It’s nice to see pucks go in, that’s for sure,” Vrbata said. “I’ll take anything.”
NOTES: Prior to the game, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault announced Girardi would replace D Adam Clendening in the lineup. Vigneault also said LW Chris Kreider reported to the team with “neck spasms” and would miss the game. Oscar Lindberg dressed in place of Kreider, and skated on the fourth line with Jooris and Brandon Pirri. Lindberg missed the entire preseason and the first five games of the regular season while he recuperated from offseason hip surgery. ... Vigneault also scratched D Dylan McIlrath. ... Arizona scratched D Kevin Connauton, D Jamie McBain and C Dylan Strome. ... The teams will meet once more in the regular season, Dec. 29 in Glendale, Arizona. ... The Rangers hosted Hockey Fights Cancer Night, a league-wide effort by the NHL and NHLPA. The Rangers wore lavender jerseys during warmups, which will be auctioned off along with players’ sticks.
Coyotes: Play at New Jersey on Tuesday night.
Rangers: Host the Bruins on Wednesday night.