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Practice Report: Rangers Look to Build off Third Period Heading to Tampa

Blueshirts on Girardi; McDonagh Doesn't Practice

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

The Rangers were pleased with their third period effort in overcoming a 4-2 deficit in Tuesday's 6-4 victory over Vegas at Madison Square Garden.

But they also know they must build off that performance heading into a two-game road trip through Florida that begins Thursday night against the Lightning in Tampa when they go for their first two-game winning streak of the season.

"We have confidence in our group, but when you go out and come back in the third period and score four goals in the third, it definitely helps," said Brady Skjei. "We're looking forward to that lift and trying to keep building off it."

The Rangers are still looking for their groove on a consistent night. And while head coach Alain Vigneault said he wasn't looking to "accentuate the positives," his team is 3-2-1 in its last six games heading into Thursday's matchup against the Lightning, who are tied with the Blues atop the NHL's standings.

Vigneault said there's still for his team to work on, but his team is showing signs of the squad it knows it can be.

"There's obviously things that we know we need to clean up and we're working on them, but there's also been good things," he said on Wednesday. "Let's bring those good things to a real tough building and a real strong team and let's have a good game."

Tampa's two-headed offensive monster of Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov has given fits to opponents thus far this season, with Stamkos' 24 points leading the NHL. Kucherov, meanwhile, has 21 points and is second in the NHL.

J.T. Miller said it'll take more than just the defensemen to keep both of those players off the scoresheet.

"If we can play our game and make them defend, it's hard for them to get their looks," he said. "We've got to understand when they're on the ice. That'll be really important."

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Thursday marks the first meeting for the Rangers against former Blueshirt Dan Girardi, who signed with the Lightning after being bought out by the Rangers in the offseason.

Henrik Lundqvist, who spent 11 seasons alongside Girardi, expressed how much he missed No. 5 in the locker room, and praised his rugged play style.

"I miss that guy. I really do," he said. "He's such a great character in the room and the way he plays the game, he pays the price. I'm happy for him. I know he's doing well and he's enjoying himself down there. I definitely miss him on the team."

Vigneault, too, spoke of what Girardi meant to the organization during his time in New York.

"Dan was a real solid player for us. A real battler in the four years I had him here and much prior to my arriving here," Vigneault said. "There's no doubt that he left his mark in our dressing room. At the end of the day, we've got to go there. We're playing against Tampa. He's one part of Tampa. We need to be at our best."

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Ryan McDonagh missed Wednesday's practice with what the team called a maintenance day. Vigneault, though, said he expects McDonagh to be in the lineup against the Lightning.

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