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Round 2

Rangers believe extra day off will help in Game 3 against Senators

Coach Alain Vigneault to evaluate potential lineup changes with New York trailing Senators 2-0 in best-of-7 series

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, using experience as his guide, likes that there are two full days in between Games 2 and 3 in the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Ottawa Senators.

The Rangers trail the Senators 2-0 in the best-of-7 series after losing Game 2 on Saturday 6-5 in the second overtime. They gave up a two-goal lead in the final 3:19 of the third period. Senators forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored four goals, including the last three of the game.

"I think this extra day off between games is going to be beneficial for us," Vigneault said Sunday. "Nearly the same situation happened in Game 2 in Montreal and we didn't respond real well at home in Game 3." 

The Rangers gave up a lead with 17.2 seconds left in the third of Game 2 at the Montreal Canadiens in the first round and lost in overtime. They were flat in Game 3 and lost 3-1 before coming back to win Games 4, 5 and 6 to take the series in six games.

The difference now is they're coming back to play Game 3 at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports) in a near must-win situation.

"[The extra day off] is going to permit us to work on a couple things," Vigneault said. "It's going to permit us to maybe show a little bit more video. And it's going to give our players an extra day."

Vigneault and his coaching staff got to work on the analysis of Game 2 Sunday morning. He stressed after watching the game and evaluating what happened that he still liked the way the Rangers played throughout the game, echoing what he said minutes after it was over.

"We've played some pretty good hockey and we've gotten some good looks," Vigneault said. "We've been able to limit a pretty skilled team and we've been able to generate quite a few chances."

Video: NYR@OTT, Gm2: Pageau snaps in fourth for 2OT win

What they couldn't do was stop Pageau, particularly in the final minutes of the third, when he scored goals at 16:41 and 18:58 on deflections from in front of the net.

Vigneault said the coaches are looking into what the Rangers could have done better to stop Pageau from getting open for the deflection opportunities. He wouldn't divulge what they might have planned other than to say he may look to use different forwards against Pageau.

Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello were on the ice when Pageau scored to make it 5-4. Kevin Hayes, Jesper Fast and Michael Grabner were on when Pageau scored his game-tying 6-on-5 goal.

"Maybe I'm going to put a checker on their checker because he's supposed to be their checker and he got four goals," Vigneault said. "There's no doubt that they had a few goals from tips that made it very difficult. It is something that we are going to see if we can't come up with a little different strategy there."

Even though Vigneault likes the way the Rangers have played, he indicated that the result, being down 2-0, might dictate a lineup change or two. He shortened the bench in the third period and through overtime by not using forwards Oscar Lindberg, Pavel Buchnevich and Jimmy Vesey.

"I would tell you that everything is on the table right now," Vigneault said.

Vigneault, though, said he doesn't think he'll make any changes on defense because he has liked the way his three pairs (Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi, Marc Staal and Nick Holden, Brady Skjei and Brendan Smith) have played.

They all had their tough moments in Game 2, though.

Skjei scored two goals but did not play the final 6:48 of the third period, when the Rangers were trying to defend a two-goal lead. Smith did not play the final 5:37 of the third. Both played a regular shift in overtime.

Video: NYR@OTT, Gm2: Skjei goes five-hole for his second

"We were looking for certain matchups," Vigneault said. "It just happened that way."

Holden played 28:11 and Staal played 26:24, but they were on the ice for three goals against, including the overtime winner, when Holden made an ill-advised pinch up the wall and got caught after Ottawa chipped the puck out, leaving Staal alone to try to defend a 2-on-1.

Pageau kept the puck and scored at 2:54 of the second OT.

Vigneault was critical of Holden's decision to pinch in that situation because he was going after what was at best a 50-50 puck and the Rangers didn't have a high forward to cover for him.

"It was obviously not the right decision at that time," Vigneault said.

But it is one Vigneault and the Rangers will analyze and try to correct so it doesn't happen in Game 3. They've got the time to do it. 

"There's no doubt that was a tough loss [Saturday] considering the way we played," Vigneault said, "but having this extra 24 hours to consume it and be able to take the time to adjust in a couple areas I think is going to be beneficial for our group."

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