AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) – Although the New York Rangers weren’t happy with every aspect of the game, they were glad to get a needed win at home.
Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast scored 3:12 apart in the middle of the third period to help the Rangers beat the Calgary Flames 4-3 Sunday for their second victory in their last seven at Madison Square Garden.
“We’re aware obviously of the record we’ve had here the past few weeks and it’s something we want to improve,” said New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who stopped 29 shots. “Obviously there’s no better feeling than to win in front of your own fans. … This is the place where you gain the most confidence when you win.”
Michael Grabner had a goal and an assist, Rick Nash also scored and J.T. Miller had two assists to help the Rangers win for the fifth time in seven games overall and improve to 5-0-1 in their last six against Calgary.
“I don’t think we had our ‘A’ stuff, but we did a good job defending and not getting hurt by it,” Rangers center Derek Stepan said.
Flames veteran Kris Versteeg got ejected after losing his jersey during a fight in the third period, and waved to jeering fans as he skated off.
Versteeg, a two-time Stanley Cup champion with Chicago and not known as a brawler, tangled with Pavel Buchnevich and got his jersey pulled over his head during the scrap. The 30-year-old forward was tossed because, by rule, his jersey hadn’t been properly tied down.
The Flames, who practiced on an outdoor rink in Central Park on Saturday, had won three in a row.
Matthew Tkachuk had a goal and an assist, and Dougie Hamilton and Troy Brouwer also scored for the Flames. Brian Elliott finished with 28 saves and Mikael Backlund had two assists.
“I thought we deserved to get some points out of this building,” Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan said. “These are the types of games that make you better and we were good tonight, we just didn’t get the points.”
The Rangers outlasted Calgary in a furious third period that began with the score tied at 1.
Kreider put the Rangers ahead 3-2 as he brought the puck up the left side and sent a shot from outside the left circle that deflected in off the skate of defenseman Dennis Wideman for his career high-tying 21st goal at 8:20.
Fast made it 4-2 with about 8 1/2 minutes left off a pass from Miller.
The Flames took advantage of a Rangers giveaway less than a minute later as Backlund fired a shot that deflected off Tkachuk past Lundqvist.
Grabner gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead at 1:54 of the third, taking a pass from Brady Skjei in the right circle and putting it into the top right corner for his 23rd.
Brouwer tied it at 4:40 as he got the deflection of Johnny Gaudreau’s shot and put it past Lundqvist for his ninth.
Nash appeared to give the Rangers the lead in the final second of the second period, but it was waved off after a review showed the puck went in after the clock had expired.
After the Rangers outshot the Flames 15-13 in the opening period, the chances slowed down in the second.
“It was an awful period from both sides,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “In the third, I thought we executed better … and we were able to get two points.”
Hamilton gave the Flames a 1-0 lead on the power play when his shot from the point deflected off Rangers defenseman Nick Holden and past Lundqvist’s glove side for his eighth at 6:59 of the first.
The Rangers tied it on their own power play less than two minutes later. Nash got a pass in front from Stepan in front and his second attempt went in for his 15th at 8:55. Ryan McDonagh also had an assist on the goal for his 200th career point.
New York scored on the man advantage for the second straight game after going 0 for 15 over their previous five.
NOTES: Gaudreau had an assist for the fourth straight game, giving him six points (one goal, five assists) in that stretch. … The Flames fell to 5-1-0 this season when Hamilton scored a goal. … Miller now has 18 points (seven goals and 11 assists) over his last 15 games. … New York improved to 9-1-0 against the Pacific Division this season.
Flames: At Pittsburgh on Tuesday night in the finale of a three-game trip.
Rangers: Host Anaheim on Tuesday night in the second game of a stretch of four straight at home.
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