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Rangers’ penalty kill is getting the job done

Jesper Fast  of the Rangers celebrates his  goal

Jesper Fast  of the Rangers celebrates his  goal against the Canadiens during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at Madison Square Garden on April 18, 2017. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Rangers’ 3-for-5 power play was the key as the Blueshirts beat the Blue Jackets, 5-3, on Monday night, but their penalty kill has been an unsung hero in this 6-2 streak.

The Rangers’ shorthanded crew has put out almost every fire, dousing another in the second period when the Blueshirts were down 2-0 and Michael Grabner went to the box for tripping at 7:41.

Led by Jesper Fast and Grabner, the penalty-killers have denied 21 of 23 power-play opportunities (91.3 percent). That’s a significant improvement from the first eight games, when the Blueshirts allowed eight goals in 30 opportunities (73.3 percent). They have climbed to 16th overall in the NHL.

“Our PK has been better for quite some time now,” Alain Vigneault said. “Some of it has to do with better pressure, where we find our trigger points and our guys understanding what we’re looking for, and quicker rotation of our duos permits us to be skating a little bit more. Obviously, you need good sticks and saves, and we’ve been getting more of those.”

Fast, who played in the last eight games after returning from offseason hip surgery, “is our best shot-blocker, and probably with Grabs, they’re probably our two best forwards as far as getting into lanes,” Vigneault said.

Rangers honor Nash

“We needed this win for many reasons,” said Henrik Lundqvist (23 saves). “We obviously want to get in a better position, but also it was a special night for Nasher.’’ In a pregame ceremony, Rick Nash was honored for 1,000-plus games with a career montage on the scoreboard and was presented a silver stick and an all-expenses-paid California golf vacation. Said Lundqvist, “You want to make sure it’s a fun night to look back at, so we’re really happy with the way we battled.” . . . Defenseman Brendan Smith was a healthy scratch for the third consecutive game. Boo Nieves (flu) was scratched for the second straight game.

Not looking at Glass

Asked if he is interested in Tanner Glass, who played for him in Vancouver and the Rangers and was waived by Calgary on Monday, Vigneault said: “We’re good.” . . . Defenseman Alexei Bereglazov, 23, assigned to Hartford, is being loaned to his KHL team, Metallurg Magnitogorsk.

New York Sports