After some ugly third periods in the last nine games — especially in losses at Florida and Boston and against Montreal — there were positive signs for the Rangers on Sunday night.
“The third period felt like the first couple weeks of the season,” said Henrik Lundqvist, who faced only three shots; the Rangers had 12. “I’m really happy with the way we played. We were back to making good decisions with and without the puck.”
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Said Alain Vigneault, “In the third, we played smart. [We] got pucks deep and we were able to score that third one [by Derick Brassard] to give us a little breathing room.”
By the numbers
It was a dominant evening at the dots for the Rangers, who won 64 percent of the faceoffs. Dominic Moore was outstanding, winning 13 of 14 draws. Oscar Lindberg won 12 of 18 . . . Rookie Dylan McIlrath, who is gaining confidence, played a career-high 15:36. He delivered six hits, had two shots on goal, missed the net twice and blocked a shot . . . With a 2-for-2 performance, the Rangers lead the NHL in penalty-killing efficiency at home (45-for-50, 90 percent) . . . The Rangers will take 13 healthy forwards, including Tanner Glass and Emerson Etem, on the upcoming week-long road trip to Western Canada, but they’ll have only six defensemen until possibly Wednesday, when they face the Canucks, because of salary-cap issues, Vigneault said. Defenseman Kevin Klein is recovering from an abdominal strain suffered on Nov. 30.
Ref takes offense
At one point in the third period, referee Tim Peel skated over to the bench and admonished Brassard, repeatedly pointing his finger at the center. Brassard declined to discuss the reason for the lengthy reprimand but called Peel one of the best officials in the league and added that Peel took what he had said the wrong way. Vigneault simply described the conversation as “R-rated.”