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Rangers defenseman Brendan Smith a healthy scratch vs. Lightning

Martin Jones of the San Jose Sharks defends

Martin Jones of the San Jose Sharks defends the net in the first period against Brendan Smith of the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 23, 2017. Credit: Jim McIsaac

TAMPA, Fla. — Brendan Smith was be a healthy scratch for the third time this season on Thursday night.

Smith skated Thursday morning with spare forward Paul Carey and backup goaltender Ondrej Pavelec at Amalie Arena, which generally signals that a player will sit.

At 5:30 p.m., coach Alain Vigneault confirmed that Nick Holden would step in for Smith. “Last game, Smitty had a couple moments that were challenging, “ he said. “Couple decisions in front of our net, couple decisions with the puck. He’s a hard worker, will be ready next time we need him.”

“I was not totally happy with my last game,” said Smith, who agreed to a four-year, $17.4-million contract during the summer but also was benched for the third and fourth games of the season. “I felt like I’ve had a lot of really good games, and a couple periods have got away from me . . . and I think I’ve got to make sure I have a lot of consistency to make sure I stay in the lineup. I’m continuing to work on that today, and try to get ready for Florida [Saturday’s game against the Panthers].”

Smith has two assists in 11 games and played just 12:06, including a sloppy first period, against Vegas on Tuesday.

Ryan McDonagh, who did not practice on Wednesday, skated and was expected to play with different partners.

“We’re gonna mix and match with Mac due to Tampa’s firepower,” said Vigneault, who added the team captain is “fairly close to 100 percent.”

New York Sports