Red-hot Rangers within range of Metro lead after beating Bruins

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As of Oct. 19, the New York Rangers were spinning out of control at 1-5-2. As of tonight, they’re two points behind the Penguins for the Metropolitan Division lead.

Riding a hot first period from youngsters Pavel Buchnevich and Jimmy Vesey, the Rangers maintained a 3-1 lead to an eventual 4-2 win against the Boston Bruins. The B’s made things interesting for some time in the third, but New York won, giving the Rangers an impressive five-game winning streak.

They’ve also won six of eight, moving to 8-7-2 on the season.

The good news is that they’re now in the thick of things in the Metro. The bad news is that, even with this hot streak, they still have a lot of work to do:

Metro standings as of Wednesday night

Penguins: 9-6-2, 20 points, 17 games played
Devils: 9-4-1, 19 pts., 14 GP
Blue Jackets: 9-6-1-, 19 pts., 16 GP
Islanders: 8-5-2, 18 pts., 15 GP
Rangers: 8-7-2, 18 pts., 17 GP
Capitals: 8-7-1, 17 pts., 16 GP
Flyers: 7-6-2, 16 pts., 15 GP
Hurricanes: 5-5-3, 13 pts., 13 GP

So, yes, the Rangers are in the mix, and with some other Metro teams stumbling, things are looking up. At the same time, you can see that things are very tight. One can’t count Carolina out, as while the Canes are five points behind the Rangers, they have played four fewer games.

(The Rangers have also played 12 of 17 games at home so far.)

Regardless, the Rangers end the night in the East’s final wild card spot, which stands as a pretty startling turnaround when you consider how dire things looked mere weeks ago.

Looking at this five-game winning streak, the Rangers have simply found different ways to win. Their power play has been hot some nights, as they’ve scored six times on the man advantage during this run, with three of those PPGs coming against Columbus. This time around, the Rangers didn’t need their power play, going 0-for-1 in that regard.

On other nights, the Rangers needed to grind out overtime wins and rally from a tough deficit against Vegas. In this case, the defense-challenged group showed that they could protect a lead, even one that they built early on.

That has to be a promising sign for Alain Vigneault, Henrik Lundqvist & Co., even if the Bruins are dealing with some serious injury issues. Credit Boston for a strong push late in this game, but this team obviously needs some supplementary scoring beyond Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, the source of their two goals. (Maybe they need to work the trade market?)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.