PITTSBURGH - Although he missed the morning skate with a stomach bug, Rangers defenseman Keith Yandle played 15:49 Monday night and fired a dead-on headman pass from behind the Blueshirts' blue line to Carl Hagelin for the opening goal in Game 3.

"It was just one of those things where I kinda tried to stay away from the guys [in the morning]," Yandle said after the Rangers' 2-1 victory in Game 3 that gave them a 2-1 lead over the Penguins in the Eastern Conference first-round series. "I didn't really have any doubt that I was going to play. It was one of those things you can control. In the game, the adrenaline kind of takes over. Especially in a playoff game like this, you've got to be ready for it."

Hagelin was happy that Yandle dressed.

"Perfect pass," he said. "[Chris] Kunitz was going off, then he came back to slash me."

Hagelin said his 20-foot slap shot may have surprised Marc-Andre Fleury. "He probably thought I was going to make a move,'' he said, "but you'll have to ask him."

He added, "Any time we can catch them off guard -- they're an aggressive team; they like to forecheck -- so the sooner we can break out and the quicker we can break out, the better."

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Girardi at top of his game

Defenseman Dan Girardi, who was given the Broadway Hat by his teammates as game MVP, had six blocks and two assists. He is tied for the NHL lead in blocked shots (15) and tied for second among NHL defensemen in assists (three) and points (three) in this year's playoffs.

On Wednesday night, he will appear in his 93rd playoff game, tying Walt Tkaczuk for first among skaters on the Rangers' all-time list.

 

Good sign for Rangers

Is Game 3 a harbinger for success in a best-of-seven series? The Rangers have an 8-1 record in the last nine playoff series in which they won Game 3 on the road (dating to the Eastern Conference quarterfinals in 1994 against the Islanders).

 

Blue notes

On a team that struggles in the dots, Derick Brassard won a game-high 11 of 17 (65 percent) on Monday night. He has won 57.1 percent of the draws in the first three games (36-for-63) . . . Chris Kreider leads the Rangers in playoff goals (12) since he made his debut in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at Ottawa on April 16, 2012. Five have been game-winners . . . The Rangers (2-for-2 on the penalty kill in Game 3) have not allowed a power-play goal in 11 of their last 15 regular-season and playoff games (32-for-37, 86.5 percent) . . . The Rangers are not scheduled to practice on Tuesday but will have some media availability at their hotel here.