Alain Vigneault takes blame for playing flu-ridden Derek Stepan, Martin St. Louis
Alain Vigneault fell on his sword. Fortunately for him, it didn't end up too bloody. A win took care of that.
The Rangers' coach took the blame for allowing flu-ridden Derek Stepan and Martin St. Louis, who didn't participate in the morning skate, to dress for Monday night's game against the Coyotes.
"I made a mistake," Vigneault said after the 4-3 overtime victory. "I shouldn't have played Step and Marty. I should have taken that out of their hands. I saw them at 4 [p.m.], they didn't look good, but they both said they wanted to play. At the end of the day, I've got to take that out of their hands. They had no energy, and obviously it showed."
Brad Richards, who has been struggling, was given extra time (21:34). He responded with a tip-in goal that halved the 2-0 Phoenix lead and was on the ice for the score-tying goal and Ryan McDonagh's overtime winner.
"This was one of his best games at both ends of the rink," Vigneault said. "He did what he needed to do defensively, and after he scored, his play seemed to pick up and I used him more."
McDonagh noticed. "He was back to himself, making plays, finding guys, getting them the puck with time and space, going to the net," he said of Richards. "He helped set up the overtime winner. Little plays like that don't show up in the scoresheet."
Carl Hagelin and Benoit Pouliot each had two assists . . . Rick Nash led both clubs with six shots . . . Defenseman John Moore appears to be improving after suffering a concussion in Columbus on a hit from Blake Comeau. Vigneault said Moore, who did not play Monday night or in New Jersey on Saturday, was feeling better and rode a stationary bike. Moore is following post-concussion protocol and there is no time frame for his return.
Tribute to Henrik
The blue carpet was unfurled from the corner of the rink at the Zamboni entrance at 7 p.m. Four minutes later, Henrik Lundqvist skated down ice to hug his parents, kiss his wife and daughter and exchange greetings with former Rangers goaltenders Ed Giacomin and Mike Richter.
All three goalies watched a tribute video on the Madison Square Garden center-ice scoreboard, but it was Lundqvist who now stands above both in the franchise record books, and he was honored in an eight-minute pregame ceremony. Last week in Ottawa, he passed Richter on the franchise list for wins by a goaltender with 302, and his 50th career shutout, in New Jersey on Saturday, lifted him over Giacomin for first place in that category.
Lundqvist, who also was named the NHL's second star of the week with a 3-0 record, a 1.67 GAA and a .942 save percentage, received a custom-designed mask to commemorate the records. Alternate captains Richards, Marc Staal and Dan Girardi presented him a pale blue Les Paul guitar from the team.