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Dan Boyle starting to rebound in the playoffs for Rangers

Dan Boyle looks on during Rangers practice on

Dan Boyle looks on during Rangers practice on May 17, 2015. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

TAMPA, Fla. - Rangers winger Martin St. Louis, who won the Stanley Cup in 2004 during his 13 seasons with the Lightning, was the center of attention at Amalie Arena before Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final on Wednesday.

But across the visitors' locker room sat Dan Boyle, who also lifted the trophy in 2004, talking with only a few writers.

After a checkered first season with the Rangers, Boyle is rebounding in the playoffs. The 38-year-old defenseman had assists on both power-play goals and five shots in the 6-2 loss in Game 2 on Monday at Madison Square Garden.

Wednesday night he scored with 1:56 left in the third period, tying the score at 5 and sending the game to overtime.

Entering Wednesday night, Boyle had two goals and four assists in this year's playoffs, putting him a point behind leader Ryan McDonagh, the leader among Rangers defensemen.

Four of Boyle's points (a goal and three assists) had come on the power play, and he added an assist Wednesday night on the Rangers' power-play goal that opened the scoring in the first period. Boyle scored the game-winning goal in Game 6 against the Capitals.

"He's been very confident with the puck, making calm, decisive plays with it," said Marc Staal, who has been paired with Boyle for numerous games. "He's definitely raised his level; he's played a lot of games (1,019), so he knows what it takes to win in the playoffs. He's made a difference for us."

Recently, Boyle looks more like the power-play quarterback the Rangers envisioned after signing him to a two-year, $9-million contract as a free agent from the Sharks last July 1. "We've got to find a way to put the puck in the net, no matter how it looks," he said.

On Wednesday, Boyle spoke about Game 3 and the way this city and the Lightning have changed. But Boyle, who believes he has been treated unfairly by the New York media, didn't want to specifically talk about his game: "I'm going to pass on that," he said.

Boyle remains confident and can bristle at criticism, although he totaled only nine goals and 20 points in 65 games.

To be fair, he did not have the best start after six seasons in San Jose. In the opener in St. Louis, Boyle's hand was broken blocking a shot and he missed 14 games. In late November, he contracted an energy-sapping flu-like illness and missed two more games, right after he scored his first goal against Tampa. During a seven-game pointless drought, Boyle said he still was adjusting to coach Alain Vigneault's style and remarked: "They didn't bring me here to win games in December."

On Jan. 10 in San Jose, his nose was broken during the first period.

So on Wednesday, his conversation shifted to other topics: Game 3 and his days in Tampa.

"We [he and St. Louis] both won a Cup here, so Tampa will be a very special place for us forever," Boyle said. "It was pretty good when I was here, they had a couple tough years, but with the ownership change, from what I've heard, they've done a good job of re-establishing the team and re-energizing the area."

During the regular season, the Lightning posted the best home record in the NHL, "so we expect them to come out pretty hard tonight," Boyle said. "I'd like for them to have to weather our storm, but we'll see; I'm sure both teams are going to want to come out aggressive. "

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