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Rangers Look to End Lapses Against Buffalo

Plus Wednesday's line combinations

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

Despite the 6-4 result, the Rangers were pleased with large portions of last night's effort against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

They started well and ended well. The problem, though, was the second period when Columbus opened up the game and turned a 1-0 lead into a 4-0 advantage in a span of 11:42.

"I think it was probably a 10-minute stretch where I didn't like what I saw," Derek Stepan said after Wednesday's practice. "I think our whole group felt that way. Other than that, we did good things. We have to find a way to get rid of those 10-minute sleepers or whatever you want to call it for relate them to."

Those sleepers have crept into the Rangers game as of late. In Montreal on Jan. 14, the Canadians scored three goals in a span of 1:02 in the third period to erase a 3-2 New York advantage in a what turned out to be a 5-4 Blueshirts loss.

Just three days later, the Dallas Stars scored three goals in 5:20 in the first period and another three in 4:46 in the middle frame on their way to a 7-6 victory.

"I don't know what it is," Stepan said. "It's something that our group is aware of and something we're talking about. There's some things in-game we can control a little bit. Maybe try to find a way to - momentum swings is always a key point that I think I talk about. Handling momentum against us is something I think we need to focus in on and start there."

Like his players, head coach Alain Vigneault said he wasn't displeased with his team's performance outside of the middle frame. He said it comes down to making the big play at the key time.

"In the second period we had that five-minute span there that I would say where we gave up four scoring chances and all four went in the net," Vigneault said. "There's no doubt that we need to stop those kinds of breakdowns, but we also need a timely save. That's what I mentioned last week and the week prior. That's what we got in Toronto and that's what we got in Detroit.

"We cannot play a perfect game, so when there is a breakdown, when there is a miscue, when there is a turnover, you need your goaltender to step up," Vigneault added. "[Henrik Lundqvist] has done that many times in the past and we need him to do it."

New York responded following that loss to Dallas with three straight wins. Vigneault said he fully expects his team to turn it around Thursday against Buffalo, and that's what he enjoys most about his club.

"They're very accountable," Vigneault said of his team. "No finger pointing. I'm not finger pointing at Hank or anybody. We're all in this together and we're all trying to find solutions."

Vigneault said Lundqvist would get the start in net for the Rangers on Thursday against the Sabres.

Wednesday's practice lines:
Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Mats Zuccarello
Rick Nash - Derek Stepan - Jimmy Vesey
Michael Grabner - J.T. Miller - Jesper Fast
Matt Puempel - Oscar Lindberg - Pavel Buchnevich

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Marc Staal - Nick Holden
Brady Skjei - Kevin Klein

Extras
Brandon Pirri
Adam Clendening

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