NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers knew they were up against the possibility of a letdown Tuesday after back-to-back division wins and playing their final game before the All-Star break against a team that is neither a division rival nor challenging for a Stanley Cup Playoff berth.
The Rangers managed to squeak out a victory after toying with the trap they were trying to avoid.
Carl Hagelin scored a deflection goal to give the Rangers a 3-2 overtime win against the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers (27-13-4) go into the 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend on a three-game winning streak and wins in 16 of their past 19 games.
New York won't play again until next Tuesday, when it faces the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders have defeated the Rangers twice this season by a combined 9-3.
"I've said before they can't all be Picassos, and this was definitely [not] one of them," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "This game is about finding ways to win, finding ways to win when you're not at your best, and that's what we did."
The winning goal came off a Senators turnover.
Rangers center Dominic Moore knocked the puck away from Bobby Ryan at Ottawa's blue line. Hagelin carried the puck into the zone and got it to Dan Girardi at the right point. Girardi passed to Ryan McDonagh, who quickly tipped it to Derek Stepan. He sent a whirling backhand shot to the net from above the left hash marks that Hagelin tipped over Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson's glove with 2:05 left.
Hagelin was alone in front of Anderson because he got behind Senators captain Erik Karlsson. It was Hagelin's ninth goal, first in eight games, and second in the past 15 games.
"It was one of those things where we just seemed to be short a man there for some reason," said Anderson, who made 32 saves. "They had a guy behind our line of defense there. A pretty good pass, a pretty good tip."
Karlsson and Milan Michalek gave Ottawa a 2-1 lead in the second period when they scored 63 seconds apart. Karlsson scored at 13:38 and Michalek scored a power-play goal at 14:41.
"The whole game was sluggish from our part," Hagelin said. "At the same time we played harder tonight and we didn't give up too much other than those five minutes of the second. I think it shows a lot of character coming back, and even though we didn't play great, we found a way to get two points."
The Senators (18-18-9) play the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday. They are 6-9 in overtime this season and are 9-10-9 in one-goal games. Ottawa is 7-7-4 since coach Dave Cameron took over on Dec. 8; they were 11-11-5 under coach Paul MacLean.
"We're close, but I'm pretty tired of having this conversation that we're close," Anderson said. "We're not winning games and that's frustrating. We're here to win games. We're paid to win games. When we don't win games it's frustrating and it's not fun to be around.
"[Playing] .500 hockey isn't good enough. If we want to be a team that pushes for the playoffs we can't be a .500 team."
New York tied the game 2-2 with 17:18 remaining in the third period on Kreider's 10th goal.
The play started in the defensive zone with a long pass from Martin St. Louis to Marc Staal at the far blue line. Kreider gained a step on Senators defenseman Jared Cowen and Staal led him with a pass. Kreider, in alone, used a forehand to score on Anderson's blocker side.
"When he plays like that, with his speed, it's hard to stop that guy," Lundqvist said of Kreider. "I see it in practice every day, coming down the wing, and he's big and strong, and so fast."
Cowen said Kreider surprised him.
"He's faster than I thought," Cowen said. "He's a good skater and he got behind me, and I should have been backed up with him in front of me. It's kind of my fault. Easy thing to fix, but a dumb mistake."
Ottawa took a 2-1 lead on Michalek's goal with 5:19 remaining in the second period. The Senators held the lead into intermission by killing off a 75-second 5-on-3 for the Rangers late in the period.
Senators forward David Legwand (holding) and defenseman Eric Gryba (high-sticking) were in the penalty box with 1:42 remaining in the second. The Rangers managed one shot on goal during the 5-on-3, and the Senators blocked two. Rick Nash, who is tied for the League lead with 28 goals, touched the puck once during the 5-on-3.
The Rangers are 1-for-8 in 5-on-3 situations this season.
The Senators killed the remaining 18 seconds of Gryba's penalty at the start of the third period, but Kreider scored less than two minutes later.
"It was definitely a character win," Kreider said. "We probably didn't have the start we wanted, had a few lulls, but it says a lot about the leadership in the room that we were able to gather ourselves and be ready.
"You can't drop a game like that, can't lose a close one. That was huge for us."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl