MONTREAL — The results of the latest line shuffles by Rangers coach Alain Vigneault? Mixed.
Adding Chris Kreider to the duo of Derick Brassard and Rick Nash was a positive. Brassard and Kreider each scored at even strength, Brassard added assists on two power plays and Kreider posted an assist and a power-play goal in the Rangers’ 5-2 victory over the Canadiens on Saturday night.
“That line played real well,” Vigneault said. “Kreider’s speed was definitely a strong element to that line. I thought Derek and Rick were effective in handling and managing the puck.”
Vigneault also flip-flopped Kevin Hayes and Eric Staal on the third line. They had one shot on goal and won five of 10 faceoffs between them. “Tomorrow’s going to be a better test [against Pittburgh],” Vigneault said.
Staal has points in two of 13 games and now also is being used on the penalty kill (3:53 on Saturday night). From 2010 through February 2014, he had 13 shorthanded points while averaging only 59 seconds per game. But in the last two years, Staal was not used much.
McDonagh a good guy
Captain Ryan McDonagh was the recipient of this season’s John Halligan Good Guy Award. The defenseman was selected in a vote of the New York chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association for his cooperation with the media.
“I’m very appreciative,” said McDonagh, 26, who was named the 27th captain in franchise history on Oct. 6, 2014. “I understand the responsibility and take great pride speaking as one of the leaders on behalf of our team.”
Recent winners of the award, named for the long-time NHL executive and the team’s vice president of communications, include Henrik Lundqvist, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi and Derek Stepan.
Antti Raanta was stunned by Lars Eller’s shot to the left side of the neck in the second period but stayed in . . . Lundqvist starts Sunday against the Penguins . . . Oscar Lindberg was a healthy scratch for the sixth consecutive game . . .
D Dylan McIlrath sat out his ninth game with a knee injury but should be ready in five or six days . . . The Penguins said forward Chris Kunitz will be a game-time decision on Sunday. He was shaken up in a collision with Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk on Saturday.