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Rangers’ Kevin Klein is close to returning

Kevin Klein #8 of the New York Rangers

Kevin Klein #8 of the New York Rangers checks Kris Letang #58 of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first period during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, April 21, 2016. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Jimmy Vesey’s first NHL goal was cause for an animated celebration. “It was definitely just pure joy,” said Vesey, the Harvard graduate and Hobey Baker Award winner, who beat Sharks goaltender Martin Jones off a pass from Derek Stepan at 12:37 of the third period Monday night.

“Two fist pumps . . . I couldn’t be happier to get that one out of the way,” Vesey said. “The ovation was awesome and what I dreamed about as a kid.”

His reward? He was given the Broadway Hat by his teammates.

“In the two earlier games,’’ Vesey said, “you just try not to make a mistake and play it safe. I think this [goal] gives me even more confidence. A lot has come from building chemistry with [Stepan and Mats Zuccarello]. You saw the play that they made.”

McIlrath gets physical

Defenseman Dylan McIlrath, in the lineup for the first time, did what he has been known for: playing physically.

At 17:25 of the second period, after Tomas Hertl harassed goalie Antti Raanta, McIlrath and Hertl shoved until McIlrath landed a right that rattled Hertl’s helmet before officials stepped in.

McIlrath was assessed four minutes for roughing, Hertl two. The Sharks did not score on the power play.

“He’s kind of a teddy bear for a goalie,” Raanta said. “Whenever he’s on the ice or on the bench, he’s protecting us.”

Klein getting closer

Kevin Klein is closer to returning. The defenseman, who missed his third consecutive game with back spasms, participated in the team’s morning skate. Alain Vigneault said he will see how Klein fares during a full practice Tuesday . . . Raanta received an assist on Kreider’s second-period goal. It was his first point as a Rangers goalie.

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