The Stanley Cup Playoffs featured several great moments on Thursday night, and one of the highlights was Mika Zibanejad’s late overtime goal that propelled the New York Rangers to a 3-2 road victory over the Montreal Canadiens.

NHL Playoffs Round 1: Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad Scores IN OT In Game 5 Win

The Rangers now lead the first-round Eastern Conference series 3-2, with Game 6 of the best-of-seven series set for Saturday night in New York.

Zibanejad’s goal came at 14:22 of overtime on a deflected pass from the left side by Chris Kreider. The 24-year-old Swedish centre beat Habs goalkeeper Carey Price to score two days after his birthday.

“I didn’t expect the puck to come to me like that, and I don’t think the defense noticed it either,” Zibanejad said. “I was able to get a stick on it — it was just awesome.”

Kreider was attempting to score when his shot bounced off Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin’s and slid across the slot to Zibanejad.

Zibanejad was acquired by the Rangers last summer from the Ottawa Senators in a trade with Derrick Brassard. 

“We had a lot of good chances and I think it was the opposite way around last time we were here in overtime (in a 4-3 loss in Game 2), they had some momentum coming in and they were pretty much all over us and we weren’t making any plays,” said Zibanejad, who also had one assist. “And I think it was the other way around today. It felt like it was our turn and good to get rewarded.”

The Rangers have indeed been improving this postseason. They outshot the Canadiens 10-3 in overtime Thursday, and the effort proved fruitful.

“I think there’s stuff that we didn’t do a few nights ago in overtime that we harped on as a group and I thought we did a better job,” Kreider said.

Montreal took an early 2-1 lead thanks to first-period goals from Artturi Lekhonen and Brendan Gallagher. In between those goals, Jesper Fast scored a short-handed goal with 4:04 remaining in the opening frame.

Fast tied it 1-1 to net his second goal of the playoffs on a feed from Zibanejad, who intercepted Alex Galchenyuk’s pass in the Rangers zone and rushed down the left side.

Twenty-four-seconds after Fast’s equalizer, Gallagher put the Canadiens back up with a power-play goal. Brady Skjei scored for the Rangers to tie it 2-2 with 1:32 remaining in the second period. Skjei’s goal came on a rebound of a close-range shot from Rick Nash, who took a pass from Jimmy Vesey. Price was able to make a quick save on Nash’s shot.

Price made 33 saves for Montreal, while Henrik Lundqvist stopped 34 shots for the Rangers.

Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh recorded three blocked shots and six hits in 30:41 of play.

The Canadiens led 33-26 in shots heading into overtime. The Habs and Rangers are facing off in the postseason for the 16th time, the last instance being in 2014, and New York has won eight of those series. None of the two teams’ playoff encounters have ever reached Game 7.

Game 6 is Saturday at 8 pm EST at Madison Square Garden.

Meanwhile, the Nashville Predators defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 at home in Game 4 on Thursday night to cap off the franchise’s first postseason sweep.

Roman Josi netted twice for Nashville, including the game-winning goal with 9:39 left in the third period to give the Predators a 3-1 lead.

According to Hockey Night in Canada‘s David Amber, the Predators are the first team to sweep the Blackhawks in the playoffs since the St. Louis Blues did it in 1993.

The Blackhawks managed only three goals this first-round series, the least Chicago has ever scored in a best-of-seven set.

Viktor Arvidsson also scored for Nashville, while Jonathan Toews netted the Blackhawks’ lone goal on a power play. Predators goalie Pekka Rinne made 30 saves.

Chicago is now eliminated from the 2017 NHL Playoffs, while the Predators’ second-round Western Conference opponent has yet to be determined.

The Pittsburgh Penguins also won their first-round series 4-1 after defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2 at home in Game 5 on Thursday night. The Edmonton Oilers lead their series against the San Jose Sharks 3-2 after winning 4-3 in overtime in Thursday’s Game 5.

MONTREAL, QC – APRIL 20: Mika Zibanejad #93 of the New York Rangers skates the puck against Paul Byron #41 of the Montreal Canadiens in Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre on April 20, 2017 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

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