Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Rangers Finish Strong

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Rangers Finish Strong

Article excerpt

CHICAGO -- It's time to consider whether the Rangers have truly turned the tide on their season.

For in the ultimate measuring-stick game against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, who are within two points of the NHL points lead and had gone undefeated in regulation over their previous 10 games, the Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist were good at the beginning and better at the end of a 3-2 victory Wednesday night at the United Center.

"This league is so tight, every team can beat any team," said Lundqvist after making 35 saves. "It's about being consistent. That's why Pittsburgh and Boston and Chicago are top teams. They're consistent. I don't think they're that much better than everyone else."

The Rangers (22-20-3), who recovered after letting a two-goal lead slip away, play their next four and seven of their next eight at Madison Square Garden. They have won four of six and are 6-2-1 since Dec. 22, and moved into third place in the Metropolitan Division -- playoff position -- with the win.

"It's consistency," captain Ryan Callahan said. "It's just coming in and playing that way when we need it. You can feel some traction here but we have a big homestand coming up."

Corey Crawford made 29 saves for the Blackhawks (29-8-9), who had a 6-0-4 streak snapped and are 15-3-6 at home.

Carl Hagelin scored the winner at 14:03 of the third period, outmuscling defenseman Nick Leddy at the crease for the rebound of Marc Staal's shot from the left point. Lundqvist then robbed Marian Hossa on his close-range backhander at 15:10.

"I think we've been playing better and better lately," Hagelin said. "We're confident going into the third. The third period is our period."

"All I know is beating the Stanley Cup champions in their building is not an easy task," coach Alain Vigneault added. "We knew it would take our best game. …

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