Jimmy Hayes #11 of the Boston Bruins reacts after he...

Jimmy Hayes #11 of the Boston Bruins reacts after he was called for a penalty in the first period as brother Kevin Hayes #13 of the New York Rangers looks on at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, March 23, 2016. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Despite some pointed criticism from coach Alain Vigneault Wednesday, Kevin Hayes remained in the lineup against the Bruins, starting on the third line, while rookie Oscar Lindberg was a healthy scratch for the fifth straight game.

Hayes was pointless in Wednesday night’s 5-2 victory, playing 11:47, with two shots and three hits on a line with Chris Kreider and Eric Staal.

Around noon, Vigneault had repeated his assessment that Hayes, 23, and in a sophomore slump, “needs to be a little more assertive . . . protect the puck better, use more speed in certain situations, and we need him to be defensively responsible. He’s got some offensive skills but you have to play at both ends of the rink, be dependable at both ends. We know he’s got a lot of potential, but as a young player, he’s having his ups and down.”

Vigneault indicated that for Lindberg, it was a numbers game. “I thought Oscar was playing well . . . He is going to get some games here moving forward.” Lindberg has 12 goals and 26 points in 66 games. Hayes has 12 goals and 32 points in 72 games after 17 goals and 45 points last season.

Blue notes

Rick Nash scored his second goal in two games . . . Kevin Klein’s assist on the game-winner gave him a point in six of the last eight games. He also blocked three shots. . . . Dan Girardi skated in his 719th game, tying forward Andy Bathgate for 10th place in franchise history. Only four defensemen have played more games: Harry Howell, Brian Leetch, Ron Greschner and Jim Neilson . . . There was a pregame moment of silence for the victims of the terrorist attacks in Belgium . . . The Rangers are 4-4-2 in the dark blue Heritage jerseys.

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