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updated: 4/2/2014 12:46 AM

Rangers topple Canucks 3-1

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Associated Press

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Martin St. Louis scored his first goal with the Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist made 34 saves Tuesday and New York defeated the Vancouver Canucks 3-1.

Daniel Carcillo and Benoit Pouliot had the other goals for New York, which has won seven of its past eight games and sits comfortably in an Eastern Conference playoff spot.

Ryan Kesler scored for Vancouver, and Eddie Lack finished with 28 saves as the Canucks' small postseason hopes took another hit.

Vancouver entered play five points back of the final wild-card berth in the West and has just five games remaining on its schedule.

Tuesday's game marked the regular-season return of Rangers coach Alain Vigneault to Rogers Arena. Vigneault coached in Vancouver for seven seasons, winning six division titles and leading the Canucks within a victory of the 2011 Stanley Cup.

The Canucks fired Vigneault last summer after the club's first-round playoff exit and replaced him with John Tortorella after the latter was let go by the Rangers. The switching of coaches has worked out much better for New York, with Vancouver heading toward its first spring without playoff hockey in six years.

The Rangers led 2-1 after two periods and St. Louis, who was acquired at the trade deadline from the Tampa Bay Lightning, put the game out of reach while killing a penalty at 10:15 of the third.

Vancouver defenseman Yannick Weber dove trying to keep the puck in at New York's blue line but failed, allowing Rick Nash and St. Louis to race the other way on a 2-on-1 break. Nash fed a perfect pass to St. Louis, who ripped his 30th of the season past Lack.

St. Louis had not scored in his first 14 games since joining the Rangers, but got his first with New York and the club's third short-handed goal in the past two games.

The Canucks trailed 2-0 after the first period but showed fight in the second for Tortorella, with Kesler cutting the Rangers' lead in half at 6:21 of the second.

Canucks forward Daniel Sedin grabbed the puck off an offensive zone faceoff and found Kesler in the slot and snapped his 24th of the season past Lundqvist.

Vancouver had a good chance to tie things with about seven minutes remaining in the period when Weber's point shot pinballed around in front of Lundqvist, but the Rangers goalie poked the puck into the corner before the Canucks could capitalize.

Pouliot, who scored his 13th of the season in the first period for New York, was then denied by two big saves from Lack with about two minutes later as Vancouver stayed within one heading to the intermission.

The Rangers opened the scoring at 4:59 of the first when Carcillo banged home his fourth of the season on a play that had the Canucks fuming. Lack appeared to have the puck covered but Rangers forward Brian Boyle jarred the puck loose and it fell to Carcillo at the side of the net.

Lundqvist made a big save on Kesler in the opening moments of the period before stopping Chris Higgins on a partial breakaway near the midway point to keep his team ahead.

New York then stretched the lead to 2-0 at 14:43 on the power play. Lack made a great block save on Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello, but the puck bounced to Derick Brassard, who in turn fed a wide-open Pouliot.

Zack Kassian crashed hard into the end boards as time expired in the period and had to be helped to the locker room, but the Canucks forward was back out for the second period.

Notes: The Rangers and Canucks played a preseason game at Rogers Arena in September. The Canucks honored Vigneault on the videoboard during that game, but did not pay tribute to their former coach on Tuesday. ... The Rangers are in a three-way tie for second with 10 short-handed goals on the season. ... Lundqvist's past two starts against Vancouver prior to Tuesday ended in shutouts -- a 1-0 victory on Jan. 13, 2011, and 4-0 triumph on Oct. 18, 2011. ... The Canucks host the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night. The Canucks have been outscored 12-4 in the previous four meetings, with their only point coming in a 3-2 overtime loss on Nov. 25. ... The Rangers visit the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.

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