From the head coach down, the Rangers feel they're returning to the style of play that has been so successful since Alain Vigneault took over the helm to start the 2013-14 campaign. A big reason for that has been success in the third period.
Since the Rangers defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning, 5-2, on Dec. 30, the Blueshirts have out-scored their opponents 11-2 in the third period, including two goals Monday night that turned a 1-0 deficit in the third period into a 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins at Madison Square Garden. It just so happens that the Rangers are 3-1-1 in those games.
The victory was the Rangers' first this season when trailing after two periods.
In total through the first 42 games of the season, the Rangers have scored 50 goals in the third period, compared to 37 in the first period and 33 in the second period.
"It was the same as [Saturday against Washington]," said Jesper Fast, who scored the game-winning goal Monday with 1:42 remaining in the third period. "We had a really good push in the third, and I think we had the same feeling coming into this period. We never quit. We have to work hard, and it finally paid off."
Unlike Saturday afternoon, it did pay off for the Blueshirts. They didn't break under a final flurry from the Bruins in the closing seconds of the contest, and didn't sit back waiting for something to happen.
"Those dying seconds there, after what happened with Washington, it's a good sign to get back to protecting the house there and getting that one timely save there from Henrik, which was clutch," said captain Ryan McDonagh, who had an assist and two blocked shots in 24:27. "For the majority of the game, we competed really well and didn't give them too many odd-man looks. Against a team like Boston, they don't give you much."
It was the Rangers' top players being their top players in the third period Monday, helped along by clutch scoring from their depth. The game-tying goal from Derick Brassard came on assists from Mats Zuccarello and McDonagh, while Keith Yandle picked up an assist on the game-winner.
"I think at the end of the day, you need your top players to come up big for you," Vigneault said. "Tonight, you see Quickie come through for us there. He was in front of the net trying to screen the goaltender. Both games we've come back from deficits. It's not easy to do. A very positive sign."
The Rangers improved to 15-4-1 in their last 20 home games, and have earned at least a point in 17 of their last 21. Dating back to last season, the Rangers have at least one point in 48 of 62 games (41-14-9), including 31 in their last 40 (27-9-4).
No two players have feasted on the Garden more than Zuccarello and Brassard, who have combined for 18 goals and 21 assists for 39 points in the last 17 home games.
Vigneault coached his 1,012th regular season game Monday, tying Terry Murray for 20th place on the NHL's all-time games coached list. Vigneault's 543rd win passed Billy Reay on the all-time wins list, and he is now tied with Toronto's Mike Babcock for 16th place.