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Rangers Insider: Cop pulls over Brassard, tells him to win

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Derick Brassard celebrates his third-period goal against the Washington Capitals in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Derick Brassard celebrates his third-period goal against the Washington Capitals in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

WASHINGTON – It turns out Rangers center Derick Brassard was obeying one of New York’s finest when he scored the game-winner against the Caps in Game 2 Saturday afternoon in Manhattan.

Brassard, 27, had driven down pre-game from his Midtown West apartment toward the Garden in his new car, and because it only had a license plate on the back and not the front, Brassard caught the attention of a New York City police officer.

He was reminded to take care of it, but when the officer realized it was Brassard behind the wheel, he revealed himself to be a true Blueshirt.

“Just make sure you win today,” the officer told Brassard, according to his recounting of the story on Monday, before sending the French-Canadian playmaker on his way.

Brassard went on to score at 6:07 of Saturday’s third period for a 3-1 lead, a goal that would hold up as the game-winner in an eventual 3-2 victory in Game 2 to even the second-round playoff series at one apiece.

The News was tipped off to the story by Rangers fan and Daily News reader John Butler, 41, a resident of Matawan, N.J., in the sales industry. Butler said he and his two children were headed to the Hockey House at MSG when he was stopped and an officer shared his run-in with the eventual Game 2 hero.

MAC ATTACK
Ryan McDonagh has had a tough time finding space and handling the Caps’ forecheck consistently through two games against Washington, due mainly to Washington’s relentless physical approach on New York’s top defenseman. But the Rangers captain still has managed this postseason to step up for the Rangers, and they were counting on that again in Game 3.

McDonagh, 25, has averaged .420 points per game in his NHL playoff career, almost identical to his regular-season average of .429. But more recently, including last postseason’s 17 points in 25 and four in seven games this year, his average the past two springs is up to a staggering .656.

Assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson also described McDonagh’s Game 4 performance in the Rangers’ first-round, five-game win over the Pittsburgh Penguins as “unreal.”

“One thing about Mac is he puts out and he puts out hard every game that he plays,” Alain Vigneault said after Monday’s morning skate. “Might be a little more scrutiny during the playoffs, that’s why he might get noticed a little bit more by the outside attention. But for us, there’s a reason why we decided to name him captain and there’s a reason why not only is he a good leader but he’s another young player that’s growing into becoming a real solid force for us.”

STATUS QUO
Vigneault did not appear to plan any lineup changes for Game 3, aside from Tanner Glass and James Sheppard swapping wings on the fourth line. Glass moved to the right, and Sheppard moved to the left. That way, the heavy-hitting Glass is forechecking across ice on the Caps’ puck-moving defensemen on the right side: Matt Niskanen, John Carlson and Mike Green. Keeping the same lineup meant another start for struggling third-pair defenseman Dan Boyle, who scored a power-play goal in Game 2 but had been victimized on three of Washington’s four goals in the first two games.

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