The "anchor," as coach John Tortorella calls defenseman Dan Girardi, was back after missing two games with a lower-body injury, believed to be a groin strain. "He's a shut-down guy and he's also creating some offense," Tortorella said.

Earlier in the day, Girardi, who had played 145 consecutive games, declared: "I'm playing; there's your back page. It's just getting progressively better. It feels good today so I'll go out there and just play."

Girardi had two assists in his return and played alongside Marc Staal. The pair shut down Steven Stamkos' line. Said Girardi: "No matter what the injury is, you can't test it fully until you're in a game. You can only simulate so much in practice. You've got to go for it."

Power play goes improvLike quarterbacks given the option to audible, the Rangers have a little more free rein on their struggling power play.

"We're allowing them to try to express themselves a bit, trying to leave them alone," said Tortorella, who has been trying a variety of fixes when the Rangers -- 0-for-3 last night and 4-for-40 overall -- have man-advantage opportunities.

When positioning on faceoffs, for example, he said: "It's their call. We're trying to let them explore . . . They understand our foundation and we just want them to play now. There's been so much scrutiny and so much talk, and coaching, I think it's gone too far the other way. [We] felt we were giving them a little too much. We want them not to get stuck in one position."

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Brian Boyle, Steve Eminger and Stu Bickel were healthy scratches.