Video Of Day: Stepan pass sets up Hagelin OT winner

Our Video Of Day comes courtesy of an exciting Rangers’ 3-2 overtime win over the Senators at a rocking MSG to go into the All-Star break on a high note. The play was made by Derek Stepan, whose spin-a-rama no look pass set up Carl Hagelin for his overtime winner. A perfect deflection past Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson at 2:55.

”The whole game was sluggish from our part,” Hagelin said. ”Step saw me going in. Two defensemen stepped in on him, and he made the perfect play to me.”

It was nice to see Hagelin get one. Entering the contest, he was without a point in seven. Earlier, he retrieved a loose puck and recorded an assist on rookie Kevin Hayes’ sixth to open the scoring.

The Rangers fell behind quickly. The Senators responded with two goals in a 63-second span. Erik Karlsson scored his ninth from Kyle Turris at even strength tying the score. Ottawa took advantage of a Jesper Fast turnover in the neutral zone. A Lee Stempniak hi-sticking minor led directly to a Milan Michalek power play goal.

It looked like the Sens would win again at The Garden. They had a seven-game regular season win streak snapped. The Rangers rallied thanks to Chris Kreider. His 10th goal came at 2:42 of the third period forcing overtime. Flying all night, he took a perfect Marc Staal head man pass and broke in on Anderson beating him. Staal doesn’t get many points. That was especially sweet after his new six-year $34.2 million contract was announced Sunday. He played another strong game earning third star. Kreider was number one with a game-high seven shots. Karlsson got the second star on the losing side.

The Rangers were able to win for a third straight time despite not having their best effort. They overcame some sloppy play along with a dreadful five-on-three that drew Bronx cheers at the end of the second. But they persevered thanks to strong netminding from Henrik Lundqvist (33 saves), who was matched by Anderson (32 saves).

”They can’t all be Picassos,” coach Alain Vigneault noted after tying GM Glen Sather for 26th on the NHL’s career list by coaching his 932nd game. ”This game is about finding ways to win when you’re not at your best.”

”It was definitely a character win,” Kreider added. ”We probably didn’t have the start we wanted, had a few lulls, but it says a lot about the leadership in the room that we were able to gather ourselves and be ready to play.”

The win improved the Blueshirts to 27-13-4 with 58 points through 44 games at the break. After a slow start, they’ve won 16 of 19 to pull within a point of second place Pittsburgh, who lost an emotional game against the Flyers. Let’s just say I’ll be devoting a post to it tomorrow due to the sheer stupidity of Zac Rinaldo. They’re a point up on Washington for third. The Caps blew a two-goal lead to the Oilers falling 5-4 in a shootout.

For the Rangers, they have 38 games remaining and trail the first place Islanders by five. Having lost the first two games at MSG, they still have three left with the Isles including a pivotal match-up next Tuesday at Nassau Coliseum. If they want to close the gap and give themselves a realistic chance of winning the division, they must get it. Aside from that, they need to prove they can beat the Isles. They’ve been dominated in two meetings. It definitely should be a must watch.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of New York administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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