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Rangers outlast Bruins

Derek Stepan scored the game-winner in the final period to ensure the New York Rangers held off the Boston Bruins 4-3 on Sunday and maintained their stranglehold on the Eastern Conference.

David Krejci tied the game for the Bruins midway through the period but Stepan responded less than a minute later to settle the contest.

It was New York's third win over the reigning Stanley Cup champions in as many meetings this season and their third contest in less than three full days.

"It felt like we were a little tired and had a tough time in the second (period)," New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist told reporters after making 30 saves in the win.

"In the third, we regained some energy from scoring that third goal. We answered back. That's what it comes down to."

Three first-period fights set the tone for the grudge match that saw the Rangers escape despite not playing their best.

Boston outshot New York 33-17 but still came up empty as they failed to gain breathing space in the Northeast division where they lead Ottawa by just three points.

Anton Stralman and Carl Hagelin gave New York a 2-0 lead in the first and Benoit Pouliot scored for Boston before Jordan Caron tied it for the Bruins (38-23-3) in the second.

"We were a pretty dominant team today in my mind," said Boston coach Claude Julien. "So maybe on the scoreboard it might not have been a victory, but I think mentally our guys still feel pretty confident with the game we played today."

(Reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Julian Linden)