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Rangers Begin Homestand With Win Over Flames

Fast scores game-winning goal in the third

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

The Rangers prevailed in a wild third period in their 4-3 win over the Calgary Flames Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

After being tied, 1-1, through 40 minutes - including a second period that had very little in terms offense - the two teams traded five goals in the final 20 minutes, but Jesper Fast's goal at 11:32 proved to be the difference for New York.

Video: CGY@NYR: Fast buries Miller's feed from one knee

With the Rangers up 3-2, Fast extended the lead to two with his fourth goal of the season when he beat Brian Elliott on the doorstep off a pass from J.T. Miller.

"I think we came over on a change there and Grabs did a good forecheck and Millsy got the puck right by the post," Fast said after the game. "I yelled for it a little bit but it was a nice pass and I had an open net there, so it wasn't that hard."

Calgary would add a goal by Mikael Backlund just 1:01 later, but would get no closer.

Michael Grabner started the offense in the third when he gave the Rangers a short-lived lead with his team-leading 23rd goal of the season just 1:54 into the period when he buried a cross-ice feed from Brady Skjei.

The Flames answered back with a goal by Troy Brouwer at 4:40 to even the score for the second time on the afternoon.

Video: CGY@NYR: Kreider picks the corner with wicked wrister

Chris Kreider would put the Rangers on top again when he fired a wrist shot from the circle got a piece of a Flames defender and beat Elliott over the glove at 8:20 of the third period to break a 2-2 tie.

The goal was Kreider's 21st of the season, which matched his career-high.

Fast would come up big again in the dying moments of the game when he blocked a shot with the Flames' net pulled. 

"I always try to do the right thing; block a shot, make a hit or whatever it takes to do the right thing out there," Fast said.

That effort does not go unnoticed by Fast's teammates.

"Not much he can't do," said Miller, who had two assists. "He's definitely a more offensive player than a lot of people think. He knows his role and he knows how to play. He's one of the best shot blockers I've seen, so for him to come up with the game winner and then come up with a big block, it's pretty fitting for him."

It felt at times as two separate games, with the first and third periods bookending a middle frame that saw both teams struggling for chances.

"I liked the way we played in the first period. We made some plays and I liked our execution," Vigneault said. "I don't know what happened in the second period. It was an awful period from both sides. There was nothing going on, no plays being made with the puck. In the third, I thought we executed better and found a way to get some looks on their goaltender and able to get two points."

The two teams traded power play goals in the first period. Dougie Hamilton opened the scoring 6:59 into the first period, but Rick Nash would answer 1:55 later with his 15th goal of the season, and first since Jan. 14 in Montreal.

The win gets the Rangers off to a positive start on this four-game homestand after the Blueshirts had dropped five of six in the month of January.

"You can't try to solve the season in one game," Miller said. "You just have to worry about tonight and it doesn't matter where we're playing. We know we have to be better in our home building, and I thought we did a good job and took a step in the right direction."

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