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Alain Vigneault trying to find more time for fourth line

Alain Vigneault looks on during the second period

Alain Vigneault looks on during the second period of a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden. (Dec. 23, 2013) Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

For the first half of the season, coach Alain Vigneault has done his share of line-tinkering, trying to keep a center and wing together and rotate different wings with them to try and find some chemistry.

In his first year behind the bench, Vigneault also has relied on three lines in third periods, especially in close games.

However, with some stability and success from the four current trios and a compact January schedule of 15 games, expect to see all the lines get time.

"We've got to use our bench," Vigneault said. "We've got to spread the minutes around; we're much more a four-line team at this point than we ever have been."

But Tuesday night, he varied the routine: Fourth-liners Dan Carcillo, Dominic Moore and Brian Boyle played just two shifts in the third.

Spot start for Talbot?

Henrik Lundqvist is expected to start against Detroit on Thursday in the finale of this four-game homestand. It would be his sixth start in a row and ninth in 10 games. But with a weekend back-to-back, in Ottawa Saturday, and then at home against the Capitals, Vigneault said Cam Talbot, (9-3, 1.66 goals-against-average) will start one of the two games.

Staal: We were careless

It was the Rangers' seventh game in 12 days -- and they are being given Wednesday off -- but Marc Staal denied that the Rangers' legs were heavy. "[Tampa Bay] played Monday and we didn't," he said. "Everyone is in the same boat as far as fatigue. I just think we were a little careless in the second."

While there's a tendency to stay with a hot hand, Vigneault said, "you've got to override that. One is a proven veteran and we're going to use him more, but the young goaltender has certainly proven that he can play."

Blue notes

Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper, a former lacrosse player at Hofstra, complimented Brian Boyle for not injuring Victor Hedman on a play when the defenseman slipped at the boards in the first period. "A lot of players would've run Hedman into the ground," Cooper said, "and Boyle pulled up and held up. I've gotta give Boyle a lot of credit for being a hockey player in the game and not trying to hurt somebody."

Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan and Michael Del Zotto were the only Rangers without shots on goal . . . The Rangers fell to 10-11-3 at home . . . Brad Richards has a team-high 35 points . . . Ryan McDonagh blocked five shots in a game-high 25:48.

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