NEW YORK — Stopped on a similar chance in the first period, Rick Nash changed his approach when he got another opportunity with the score tied late in the game, and it worked.
Nash stole the puck in the Kings’ zone on the left side near the centre line, drove into the left circle and beat Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick on the blocker side for his ninth of the season to give the Rangers their third lead of the game.
"I tried to go high glove and he kind of moved his chest right in front of it," Nash said of his attempt in the first period. "So I thought I had to switch it up and try to go blocker."
J.T. Miller added an empty-netter with 54 seconds remaining, and New York won for the eighth time in 12 games (8-3-1). Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes also scored, and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 33 shots to help the Rangers improve to 11-1-1 in the last 13 at home.
"It was a real tight-checking game, there wasn’t much room out there and it obviously came down to the last few minutes," Nash said. "They’re one of the best teams in the West and one of the best organizations in the last little bit here so it was a good test for us tonight. I thought we played pretty much as close as a full 60 (minutes) as we have all season."
Marian Gaborik and Torrey Mitchell scored for Los Angeles, which lost its second straight after an eight-game winning streak. Jonathan Quick finished with 24 saves, and Jussi Jokinen had two assists.
"We made some unforced errors that cost us," Kings coach John Stevens said. "They are a committed defensive team and it showed. … Their team game is sound and they prevailed tonight."
Trailing 2-1, Los Angeles tied it at 7:59 of the third while awaiting a delayed penalty on the Rangers. Gaborik went backhand-forehand-backhand with the puck as he drove across the front of the net with a defender on him, and his shot was stopped by Lundqvist. However, Mitchell was trailing the play and put the rebound past the goalie.
"We could have won this game," Gaborik said. "We can carry a lot of good things into tomorrow’s game (at the Islanders)."
The Kings trailed 1-0 until Gaborik, playing in his 1,000th regular-season game, tied it at 3:46 of the second period. The former Ranger who played in 255 games over 3 1/2 seasons in New York, brought the puck up the left side and fired a shot from inside the left faceoff circle that Lundqvist got a piece of, but the puck got past him and trickled in for Gaborik’s fifth.
Quick made a glove save on Brady Skjei with about 8 1/2 minutes left in the second, and then Skjei hit a goalpost 16 seconds later. Lundqvist stopped a hard shot by Drew Doughty about three minutes later, and a follow by Gaborik on the rebound.
The Rangers the regained the lead shortly after that as Ryan McDonagh brought the puck up the right side and, just before getting hit by two Kings players, sent it to a streaking Hayes in the middle. Hayes settled the puck and fired it past Quick for his seventh with 5:17 remaining.
"We had moments where we created good chances, good energy, then they turned it up," Lundqvist said. "It was a fun game to play and a big win."
Los Angeles outshot New York 10-8 in the first, and had numerous other attempts that were either blocked or went wide.
The Rangers got on the scoreboard on a power play midway through the opening period. Kevin Shattenkirk’s shot from the left point deflected off Kings defenceman Jake Muzzin and then Kreider and then past Quick with 9:37 left. It was Kreider’s 100th career goal and marked the fourth straight game Los Angeles, with the league’s top penalty-killing unit, allowed a power-play goal.
NOTES: Kings C Anze Kopitar was held without a point for the second straight game after totalling seven goals and eight assists in the previous 10. … After missing Los Angeles’ first 22 games, Gaborik has five goals and three assists in the last 11. … Los Angeles fell to 3-8-3 when trailing after two periods. … The teams conclude the two-game season series Jan. 21 at Los Angeles. … C Mika Zibanejad skated in the morning again. He could rejoin the team next week. … Rangers improved to 11-3-0 when scoring first and a perfect 11-0-0 when leading after two periods.
Kings: At the New York Islanders on Saturday night in the third of a four-game trip.
Rangers: At Boston on Saturday night.