Alexis Lafreniere of the Rangers celebrates his second-period goal against the...

Alexis Lafreniere of the Rangers celebrates his second-period goal against the Canucks at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

A game against the out-of-it Vancouver Canucks, with former Islander Anthony Beauvillier in the lineup instead of their former captain Bo Horvat, looked like a great opportunity for the Rangers to pick up two easy points Wednesday night at the Garden.

Ultimately, the Rangers did get the two points they were looking for, as they beat the Canucks, 4-3. But they sure didn’t look great doing it.

“You know, two points, and we played well enough to win the two points,’’ Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “But that was that was about it. It was a tough game.’’

Chris Kreider scored the 250th goal of his career; the Kid Line stayed hot with goals by Filip Chytil and Alexis Lafrenière, and K’Andre Miller had a career-high three assists as the Rangers (29-14-8) won for the third straight time and the fourth time in the last five game (4-0-1).

They are 10-2-2 in 2023, and 18-4-3 in their last 25 games.

Mika Zibanejad’s nifty deflection of a Jacob Trouba shot at 16:05 of the third period looked like insurance as it gave the Rangers a 4-2 lead. But on the ensuing faceoff, Beauvillier shot the puck in off the back boards and Elias Pettersson got to it before Trouba could and jammed it past Igor Shesterkin (22 saves) to pull the Canucks within 4-3 at 16:16.

Miller, who was on the ice at the time, said he didn’t know what happened on the Pettersson goal.

“It happened so fast,’’ he said. “ ‘Troubs’ and I both looked at each other, thinking it was icing. Next thing you know, their guy’s getting the puck and putting it in the back of the net.’’

But the Rangers managed to hold on for the win which moved them with four points of the second-place Devils in the Metropolitan Division.

They have one more game remaining on what had been a four-game homestand — interrupted by the All-Star break — when they play Friday against the Seattle Kraken. Then they head out on a four-game road trip that starts Saturday in Carolina and shifts to Western Canada next week for games against Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.

Gallant stuck with the same lines he used Monday, which meant keeping Lafrenière, Chytil and Kakko together for the fifth straight game. And Chytil scored his seventh goal in those five games to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead at 8:31 of the first period.

Kreider’s goal, his 21st of the season, had opened the scoring at 6:53, when he drove to the back post and tapped in a feed from Vincent Trocheck. Chytil made it 2-0 when he took a pass from Kakko in the lower left circle, cut to the middle and flicked a backhand past goalie Spencer Martin (17 saves).

At that point, it looked like the Rangers would blow the Canucks (20-27-4) out, but Conor Garland took a pass from Quinn Hughes and beat Shesterkin for his 10th goal of the season to make it 2-1 at 17:36. That goal gave the visitors life.

Lafrenière’s goal — he reached behind Martin to nudge in a partially blocked Trouba shot that was probably going over the goal line anyway — put the Rangers ahead, 3-1 at 6:23 of the second period. And again it looked as if the Rangers would pull away from there. But they didn’t. Vasili Podkolzin’s first goal of the season at 16:06 of the second, got the Canucks back within 3-2 and kept it a nailbiter.

“We changed the game a little bit,’’ Chytil said when asked why the Rangers kept letting Vancouver back in the game. “We started to make bad plays, making turnovers. And they got the [Garland] goal and they turned momentum on their side. It’s always hard to play when you take your foot off the pedal, and then it’s hard to get back to the way you were playing before.

“But it doesn’t have to be always pretty,’’ he said. “It’s just two points. It’s what matters.’’

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