By Dave Lozo | NHL.com
NEW YORK -- Derek Stepan scored the deciding goal in the sixth round of a shootout to give the New York Rangers a 2-1 victory over the Coyotes on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Stepan went 0 for 5 in shootout attempts as a rookie last season. In his first attempt of 2011-12, he chose to shoot for the top right corner instead of making a move, and his shot gave the Rangers the extra point.
Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata and Rangers forward Marian Gaborik also scored in the shootout.
Gaborik had a chance to win it for the Rangers in overtime on a penalty shot, but Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith made a sprawling save to keep the score tied (see KEY MOMENT below).
The NHL-leading Rangers (27-9-4) have won 10 of 11 games and five straight.
After neither team scored in the first two periods, Vrbata and New York's Ruslan Fedotenko scored goals in the third period.
Smith was brilliant in net for the Coyotes (20-17-6), making 31 saves.
Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist had one of his easier nights of the season, making only 17 saves for his seventh straight victory.
Smith was tested throughout the first period and was up to the challenge.
He made two great saves on fourth-liner John Mitchell, one on a mini-breakaway and one with his right pad from point-blank range. Smith followed that second save on Mitchell with another on Brandon Prust at the left post.
Photo by Getty Images.
Smith also made a pair of bang-bang saves on Brian Boyle with his right pad from in tight.
Lundqvist only made 10 saves through the first two periods, but his best was Lauri Korpikoski at the left post after a great pass from the right wing by Coyotes captain Shane Doan during the first period.
Fedotenko's sixth goal of the season came after he carried the puck to the front of the net and had his pass deflected away. But the loose puck settled for Fedotenko in the slot, where he ripped a shot through a maze of bodies to put the Rangers on top 2:27 into the final period.
Vrbata responded with his 20th goal of the season with 8:23 left in regulation. He ripped a one-timer from the right circle that beat Lundqvist, ending his bid for a fourth shutout on the season.
► EDITOR'S NOTE: Dave Vest of phoenixcoyotes.com edited this story and compiled this recap.
With the score tied 1-1, Coyotes goalie Mike Smith made an acrobatic stick save on a penalty shot by New York's Marian Gaborik late in the overtime period.
"It was a great move on the penalty shot, but Smith just made a great save," Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella said.
Gaborik was awarded the penalty shot after Coyotes defenseman Adrian Aucoin was called for slashing him on a breakaway at 3:10 of the extra session.
Smith has faced six penalty shots in his NHL career and has stopped five.
• Before the game, the Coyotes claimed forward Gilbert Brule off re-entry waivers from the Edmonton Oilers. Brule will join the team on Wednesday at practice in Detroit. Click here to read more.
• Defenseman Adrian Aucoin returned to the lineup after missing Saturday's game because of an upper-body injury. Aucoin played a team-high 25:24 and took his second shootout shot of the season. His shot beat Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist but clanked off a post and didn't go in the net.
• Center Boyd Gordon returned to the lineup after missing seven games with a lower-body injury. Gordon played 12:06 and won four of six faceoffs.
• Forward Paul Bissonnette fought Rangers forward Mike Rupp in the first period. It was Bissonnette's second fight of the season in his 16th game.
• Center Marc-Antoine Pouliot played a season-high 14:49 and upped his assist streak to two games by setting up Radim Vrbata's goal in the third period. Click here to watch an interview with Pouliot taped on Monday.
• Defenseman Michal Rozsival celebrated the one-year anniversary of being traded to the Coyotes from the Rangers by notching his third assist of the season.
• The Coyotes played minus centers Martin Hanzal (upper-body injury) and defenseman David Schlemko (lower-body injury). Both players are on the injured reserve list.
• The Coyotes' next game is Thursday vs. the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. The puck drops at 5:30 p.m. (Arizona time). The game can be seen on Fox Sports Arizona and can be heard on XTRA Sports 910 (AM).
"I thought Mike Smith was fantastic and gave us a chance to win. It's just too bad we couldn't get two points. It was a hard-fought point. You'd certainly like to have two."
"We played a decent game but gave up too many shots. 'Smitty' was good for us... When you get goaltending like that you wish that you find a way to capitalize on it."
"It wasn't anything special (but) it does feel pretty good. Last year, I think I was just a little nervous going into shootouts. This year, I was a little more comfortable. I just kept it simple."
• Jan. 10, 2012: NYR 2, PHX 1 (SO)
• Dec. 17, 2011: NYR 3, PHX 2
1 - 0 NYR