NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers were far from their best at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon.
For the first time in a while, however, they found a way to win on their home ice without their "A" game.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault called his team's second period "awful" but was pleased that they found a way to a win after seeing a 4-2 lead cut in half by Matthew Tkachuk's goal off a Dan Girardi turnover.
"I liked the way we played in the first period -- we made some plays and I liked our execution," Vigneault said. "I don't know what happened in the second period. It was an awful period for both sides. There was nothing going on. No plays being made with the puck.
"In the third, I thought we executed better, found a way to get some looks on their goaltender and were able to get two points."
The Rangers and Flames exchanged power-play goals in the first period. Flames defenseman Dougie Hamilton's point shot deflected off Rangers defenseman Nick Holden and past Lundqvist to make it 1-0 at 6:59, but Rick Nash countered at 8:54 with a rebound goal that tied the game.
The Rangers (33-18-1) held a 15-13 edge in shots after one period, and the teams combined for 14 total during a lackluster second period. Nash nearly scored his second of the game in the final seconds, but video review showed the puck crossed the goal line just after time expired.
"Our second periods at home have been a struggle at times," said Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh, whose team was 1-5-0 in its past six games at home entering Sunday. "So we didn't connect the dots very well there in the second but as we entered the third, we started making more plays again and used our speed and it showed on the scoreboard."
Kreider used his speed to back off Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman to put the Rangers ahead for good. He fired a wrist shot from the left wing that eluded the catching glove of goaltender Brian Elliot, who made 28 saves.
The forecheck of J.T. Miller, who had two assists, and Grabner helped set up Jesper Fast's much-needed insurance goal. The quickness of Miller and Grabner led to a turnover and allowed Miller to set up Fast for his fourth goal and a 4-2 Rangers lead.
"If you look at the three goals, one is a deflection, one is a turnover right in front and the other was a nice play," Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said. "We gave up three chances and they scored three times. I thought they made a little bit of a push and I thought we responded well after the first goal but we couldn't get that fourth, and that hurt us."
Backlund felt the Rangers were fortunate to escape with the win.
"I thought we were the better team," Backlund said. "They came out in the third period and took charge, maybe. But I thought, 60 minutes, we played a good game. I thought we were the better team."
The Flames (27-25-3) hold a two-point lead on the St. Louis Blues for the final wild-card spot in the West, although the Blues have three games in hand. The Rangers are playing for second place in the Metro and are four points back of both Columbus and Pittsburgh while playing one more game than both squads.
"You can't solve the season ine one game, so you just try to worry about today," Miller said. "It doesn't matter where we are playing, but we know we had to be better in our home building. I thought we did a good job and took a step in the right direction today."
NOTES: The Flames conclude their three-game road trip against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday. ... The Flames scratched C Freddie Hamilton and D Brett Kulak. ... Rangers D Marc Staal was throwing up before the game, coach Alain Vigneault said. Staal played 17:09. ... Rangers C Kevin Hayes (lower body) did not play Sunday but Vigneault said he is close to returning. Hayes has not played since Jan. 22. The Rangers' next game is Tuesday at home against the Anaheim Ducks. ... The Rangers scratched D Adam Clendening and LW Brandon Pirri. ... The Rangers will play their next three games at home.