Momentum helps Rangers extend lead in third period
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For Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, the game-changing sequence came in the span of less than two minutes Sunday afternoon.
"That last shift at the end of the second period was a real big momentum shift for us," Vigneault said after the Rangers' 3-0 win over the Red Wings. "We took charge there and came out right at the beginning of the third and scored."
Leading 1-0, the Rangers dominated in the offensive zone for about 1:30 late in the second period. Rick Nash shot wide of Jimmy Howard, Ryan McDonagh forced two saves and had two shot attempts blocked, and Benoit Pouliot, after a rugged cycle with linemates Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard, managed a shot on goal.
Then Derek Stepan won the opening faceoff of the third and Chris Kreider made it 2-0 only 14 seconds into the period on a tip of McDonagh's shot.
McDonagh, who also assisted on Kreider's second goal later in the period, played a team-high 22:49 and his pairing with Dan Girardi was a plus-two. "He's come into his own, big-time," Girardi said.
PK units excel
The Rangers' penalty kill was 3-for-3. Since forwards Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis have taken regular shifts with Stepan and Dominic Moore, it is 9-for-9. Overall, the penalty kill is 15 for the last 16 and has three shorthanded goals in three games.
"Special teams are going to be the difference this time of year," said Girardi, who blocked three shots. "There may not be too many power plays, but we've got to kill every one. Put pressure on them and block shots every chance we get."
Stepan has a goal and eight assists in the last six games . . . The Rangers won all three games against Detroit this season and are 12-1-2 when Brian Boyle scores. Moore's assist on Boyle's goal was his 200th point.John Moore's assist was his second in two games. He had none in the previous nine.