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RANGERS at PENGUINS
(Best-of-7 series tied 3-3)
TV: NBCSN, CBC, RDS
Big story: The Pittsburgh Penguins are trying to avoid blowing a 3-1 series lead for the second time in four years. They had a 3-1 lead against the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2011, but lost the next three games, including Game 7 at home. They are 0-2 in their past two Game 7s after winning two during their Stanley Cup championship run in 2009.
"These are the ones you dreamed about playing and played in your backyard," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said of Game 7s. "These are the ones you'll remember. Game 51 you won't remember. I think we have to relish the opportunity to play in games like this, in Game 7."
The New York Rangers will try to avoid elimination for a third time in the series and fourth time in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs in Game 7 at Consol Energy Center. They are 3-0 in elimination games this year and 9-2 in their past 11 potential elimination games. They have won four straight Game 7s, as goalie Henrik Lundqvist has posted a 0.75 goals-against average and .973 save percentage in those games.
The Rangers have never won a best-of-7 series after falling behind 3-1. This is only the second time in their history that they have forced Game 7 after losing three of the first four games.
"Certainly you win two in a row and you feel good about yourself going into it, but it's a Game 7 and anything can happen," Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said. "You have to make sure you're confident and playing your best, then the chips fall where they may."
Rangers: After falling behind 3-1 in the series with losses in Games 2, 3 and 4 by a combined 9-2, the Rangers have won the past two games by a combined 8-1.
Lundqvist made 36 saves in Game 6, when the Rangers' offense was paced by goals from Martin St. Louis, Carl Hagelin and Derick Brassard. New York was 4-for-4 on the penalty kill in Game 6 and is 12-for-12 in the past four games.
Brassard has four goals in the series, including the winning goals in Games 1 and 5.
"I think his first step to becoming a real solid NHL player was last year when he first got here to New York," coach Alain Vigneault said of Brassard. "This year, maybe after a slow start, I think in the second half he's really improved. He's working on his game, working on all parts of his game. He's a young player that's only going to get better."
Penguins: Sidney Crosby's production hasn't matched his skill and importance to the Penguins in the series or the playoffs, and it appeared his frustration boiled over in Game 6, when he lifted his stick between the legs of Dominic Moore, tripped Dan Girardi (no penalty called) and slashed Lundqvist after the whistle (no penalty called).
Crosby has one goal in the playoffs and got his first power-play shot on goal of the second-round series in Game 6.
"Some guys you don't want to poke the bear too much and get them going," Rangers forward Rick Nash said. "He's too good of a professional and has been through this so many times that I wouldn't expect [his frustration to carry into Game 7]."
Crosby has been quiet on any frustration he might be feeling. He said on Monday the Penguins have to park what happened in Games 5 and 6 and look at Game 7 as a great opportunity.
"I think we look at it as basically we didn't help ourselves with the last two games we played and I don't think we look at the whole picture," Crosby said. "I think we look at responding, and this is an opportunity. We worked hard all year to get home ice."
Who's hot: For the Rangers, Brassard has four goals in the series, including three in the past two games; Hagelin has a goal in two of the past three games; Benoit Pouliot has two assists and is a plus-3 in the past two games. … For the Penguins, Brandon Sutter has goals in two of the past three games.
Injury report: Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik (undisclosed) has missed the past two games and six of the past seven. Goalie Tomas Vokoun (blood clot) and forwards Pascal Dupuis (knee) and Chris Conner (hand) are out. … The Rangers report no injuries.
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