PITTSBURGH — Veteran Dan Boyle did not get an opportunity to play in the Rangers’ final game of the season. Boyle, who was a healthy scratch, has played two seasons for the Rangers but is unlikely to return next season.
The 39-year-old defenseman’s career soared with Tampa and San Jose before arriving in New York with a two-year, $9 million contract.
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“It was a very tough decision,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “I felt our specialty teams needed some help, and thought Dan [Girardi] would come in and help the penalty kill and I wanted a shooter on the power play up top [Raphael Diaz]. We made sure this morning that Girardi was good to go, talked to medical staff, and told him.”
Boyle, brought in as a free agent in July 2014 to quarterback the power play, had 10 goals and 24 points in 74 games this season (his 17th in the NHL), and just one assist in four playoff games against the Penguins.
Girardi, who was sidelined by an undisclosed injury for the previous three games, had an assist and six hits in 17:59. Diaz recorded an assist on Chris Kreider’s power-play goal at 5:38 of the third period.
Eric is not a factor
Eric Staal, 31, the older brother of defenseman Marc, who was acquired from Carolina at the trade deadline for prospect Aleksi Saarela and second-round picks in 2016 and 2017, finished his first playoff series since 2009 on a down note. Staal, who won the Stanley Cup in 2005-06, had three goals and six points in 20 games as a Ranger and was pointless in five playoff games. On Saturday, Staal, who is a free agent this summer, had no shots on goal, but won 16 of 24 faceoffs.
Hayes sits again
Three other regulars were scratched as Vigneault opted for an 11-forward, seven-defenseman lineup. Center Kevin Hayes, a restricted free agent, sat for the second consecutive game in favor of rookie Oscar Lindberg. Fourth-line winger Tanner Glass, who played in 57 games this season and the first four against the Penguins, was a healthy scratch, as was bruising rookie defenseman Dylan McIlrath, who played in 34 regular season games and one playoff game.