By VIN A. CHERWOO, AP Sports Writer
GREENBURGH, N.Y. (AP) — Back home and with an extra day off following their tough double-overtime loss at Ottawa, the New York Rangers are a confident group as they prepare to face the Senators in Game 3.
The Rangers led 5-3 late in the third period on Saturday before Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored twice in the last 3:19 to tie the score and then got the winner 2:54 into the second extra period. His fourth goal of the game gave the Senators a 6-5 win and a 2-0 series lead.
“The guys are still feeling good about our team, feeling good about our game,” forward J.T. Miller said Monday at the team’s practice facility.
With two days between games, New York had Sunday off to rest and regroup following the loss before returning to the ice.
“That extra day is huge,” center Derek Stepan said. “It was an emotional loss and we move on from it and get ourselves ready for Game 3. We don’t really have much of a choice at this point. There’s nothing we can do about Games 1 and 2, we’re just focused on (Game) 3.”
The Rangers were the dominant team for most of Game 2 until Pageau took over, and coach Alain Vigneault believes his team has played well for the most part.
“So far they’ve made one more defensive play, one more offensive play in each game,” Vigneault said. “That’s why they’re up 2-0. We need to be the team that makes that one more, one extra defensive play and that one extra offensive play that pays off.”
Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist knows his team needs to put the stunning loss behind it and get ready for Game 3 at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night.
“It was definitely a tough loss but you move on,” Lundqvist said. “We did a lot of good things up in Ottawa, we didn’t get the results we wanted. There’s a lot of things we have to continue doing and hopefully we find a way here to get the first one at home and then take it from there.”
Vying for their fourth trip to the conference finals in six years, the Rangers have twice rallied from two games down during their runs in previous postseasons. New York rallied from 3-1 deficits in the second round against Pittsburgh in 2014 and against Washington in 2015 before winning three straight each time.
In the first round last month against Montreal, the Rangers trailed 2-1 before also winning three in a row to advance.
“You can draw from experience and understand that the big message we continue to say is it’s a ‘race to four’ (wins),” Stepan said. “The nice thing about a race to four is you can lose the first two and still get it done.”
Derick Brassard, who spent four years with the Rangers before being traded to the Senators last summer, knows his former teammates will come out with increased intensity from the start in front of their home crowd.
“I expect their best game and we’re going to have to match it,” Brassard said after Ottawa practiced at Madison Square Garden. The first 10 minutes of that game is really important tomorrow.”
Senators at Rangers, Ottawa leads 2-0 (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
Aside from Pageau’s four goals, the Senators’ other four goals in this series have come from four different players — Ryan Dzingel and captain Erik Karlsson in the opener, and Marc Methot and Mark Stone in Game 2.
Overall in the postseason, 12 Ottawa players have scored at least a goal and 17 have at least a point.
“We have four lines that can play offense or play just in general and be dangerous,” Brassard said. “Last game it was (Pageau) and that’s what makes a really good team a better and stronger team.”
Blues at Predators, Nashville leads 2-1 (9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
St. Louis coach Mike Yeo is looking at making some changes to his lines and what the Blues can do differently in Game 4 after losing their first road game this postseason. He called the Blues noncompetitive in failing to match the Predators’ level of play in a 3-1 loss, and Yeo wants St. Louis playing more physically against Nashville to take away the Predators’ space to operate.
“They’re going to punch us in the nose at some point (Tuesday night), and we’re going to be ready to punch them back,” Yeo said. “Coming into this series, one of my concerns was that we didn’t really hate this team. I think we’ve got to the point where we’re over that now.”
This is the first-ever postseason series between the Central Division rivals.
Nashville is one of two teams still undefeated at home this postseason, along with Pittsburgh. The Predators want to tap into that home crowd energy once more before heading back to St. Louis for Game 5.
“Everyone knows it’s a huge game (Tuesday) for sure and going up 3-1 is … obviously a lot better than 2-2,” Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm said.
Originally Published: https://www.usnews.com/news/sports/articles/2017-05-01/rangers-regroup-after-tough-loss-confident-for-game-3