Rangers defenseman Braden Schneider, center, celebrates his goal with K'Andre...

Rangers defenseman Braden Schneider, center, celebrates his goal with K'Andre Miller, right, and Chris Kreider in the second period against the Islanders at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. Credit: Corey Sipkin

GREENBURGH – For weeks, Rangers coach Peter Laviolette has been deflecting questions about the importance of winning the Metropolitan Division title and finishing first overall in the league. Focus on the two points at stake every game, he’s been saying, and if you win enough games, you’ll “check some boxes along the way.’’

Well, the Rangers had a chance to check all the boxes in their final regular season game Monday against the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden. A win would not only sew up the division title, but it would also clinch the Presidents’ Trophy for the best regular season record, which would bring with it home ice advantage throughout the playoffs.

And while winning the Presidents’ Trophy wasn’t something the Rangers set out to do at the start of the season, it’s something they all wanted once it became a real possibility.

“You always try to win as many games as you can,’’ forward Kaapo Kakko said. “And I think that means we've been doing a good job, if we win the whole league.’’

“I don't think (at) the first meeting that we had during the training camp, that that was the goal,’’ center Mika Zibanejad said of winning the Presidents’ Trophy. “I think we have the main goal (to win the Stanley Cup). But Part One is to make the playoffs. The season we've been having, we've been putting ourselves in a situation, and in a spot, that we can achieve those things… So anytime you have a chance to do that, you want to.’’

A loss Monday, though, would leave the door open for Carolina to steal the division title from Laviolette’s men, and for they, or Dallas, or Boston, to finish first overall.

If the Senators, 36-40-4 entering Monday, were to beat the Rangers (54-23-4, 112 points) in any fashion, and the Hurricanes (52-22-7, 111) were to win their final game Tuesday in Columbus against the lowly Blue Jackets, they would nip the Rangers at the wire to capture their third straight Metro Division title. And if that happened, it would set up a first-round playoff series between the Rangers and Islanders – assuming the Isles took care of their own business, and finished third in the Metro.

Only a win Monday night would guarantee the Rangers the division title, because the Hurricanes owned the first tiebreaker – most regulation-time wins (they have 44, while the Rangers had 42 entering Monday). That meant the Rangers needed to win Monday to ensure they would have the most points after 82 games. If they lost in overtime or a shootout, they would get a single point to finish with 113, and a Carolina victory over last-in-the-East Columbus (26-43-12) would give them the title on the tiebreaker.

Panarin voted Team Most Valuable Player. Quick voted Player’s Player

Artemi Panarin was named Monday as the team’s Most Valuable Player, as selected by members of the local media, and goaltender Jonathan Quick was named as the Player’s Player, as voted by his teammates.

Panarin, who entered the season finale with career highs in goals (48), and points (118) was fourth in the NHL in scoring and was five points shy of Jaromir Jagr’s single-season franchise record of 123 points.

“He's had a fantastic year,’’ said Laviolette, who said Panarin merited consideration for the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP. “He's been a game changer, a difference maker in the biggest way for our team.

“It's not just him, but he's the one who's had a real phenomenal year,’’ Laviolette continued. “That's well deserved.’’

“He's always been one of the best, but he's really, in a weird way to say, but he's taken another step, and it's awesome to see,’’ Zibanejad said.

Quick, who signed a one-year contract with the Rangers last summer to be a backup to Igor Shesterkin, was 18-6-2 with a 2.62 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage, and earned himself a one-year contract extension which will bring him back next season. And he became the all-time winningest American-born goaltender with a win over Arizona March 30. His teammates chose him for the Player’s Player Award, which has been given out annually since 1958-59 because he “best exemplifies what it means to be a team player.’’

“It obviously means a lot,’’ Quick said of the award. “Especially coming, in new team, and, you know, you're trying to feel it out, you don't want to overstep your bounds, but you also want to try to help the team anyway possible. So, for them to – for me to win that means a lot.’’

Blue lines

Laviolette stayed with the same lineup he used Saturday against the Islanders, meaning forward Matt Rempe was in and Jonny Brodzinski was out, along with defensemen Zac Jones and Chad Ruhwedel.

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