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Rangers Close Preseason With OT Loss in Philadelphia

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

PHILADELPHIA -- The audition period has ended. Now, the tough decisions begin.

The Rangers ended their 2017 preseason schedule with a 4-3 overtime loss against the Flyers Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center, and now must trim down to their regular season roster before the games begin a week from Thursday against Colorado.

Paul Carey, David Desharnais and Michael Grabner all scored for the Blueshirts, who finished the preseason 3-2-1, with all three wins coming at home.

Head coach Alain Vigneault opted to watch the game from the press box and said after tonight's performance made "the picture a little clearer for us right now."

"We want to win," Vigneault said when asked what factors will play into the decision making between now and next week's season-opener against the Colorado Avalanche. "Our decision is to obviously keep the players that are going to permit us to have a good season. We've got some good options. We've had a lot of young players come in and catch our attention and play well."

Vigneault said he and his staff will reconvene Wednesday during the team's off day to discuss possible roster moves, as the bench boss said he'd like to be down to closer to his final team by practice on Thursday. The Rangers currently have 34 players in camp.

While his position on the team is all but solidified, Tuesday was an important game for goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, who had not faced much in terms of shots in his first two appearances.

Like Henrik Lundqvist on Monday, Pavelec played the entire game against the Flyers and made 34 saves in the loss.

"There were a lot of scoring chances on both sides," Pavelec said. "That's what the goalie needs in the last preseason [game]. I'm really happy for it. Of course we wanted to win and we were here to win the game. But for me as a goalie, Hank had a similar game yesterday. I was looking for it but the result isn't what I wanted."

"I feel very good," he added. "I feel better every period I play. Hopefully it's going to be better and better."

Vigneault too was pleased at the amount of work Pavelec had in his final tune-up and expressed his confidence in the first-year Ranger heading into the regular season.

"He didn't have a lot of work the first two games. Got more work tonight," he said. "I thought he made some key saves at the right time and gave us a chance to come back in the game. I've really liked his work ethic in practice and he's spending a lot of time with [goaltending coach Benoit Allaire] on the ice early working on technical aspects of his game. So far he's been improving. He's proven in the past that he's a real good goaltender and I'm confident he's going to do that again with us this year."

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