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5 Keys: Rangers at Canadiens, Game 5

Defenseman Alexei Emelin likely to return for Montreal; New York needs more from power play

by Sean Farrell / Correspondent


7 p.m. ET; USA, CBC, TVA Sports, MSG

Best-of-7 series is tied 2-2

MONTREAL -- The Eastern Conference First Round series between the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens is tied 2-2 heading into Game 5 at Bell Centre on Thursday. 


[RELATED: Complete Canadiens-Ranges series coverage]


The winner of Game 5 in best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoffs series tied 2-2 go on to advance 78.1 percent of the time (193-54), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Canadiens are 40-10 all-time when they're tied 2-2, but 0-2 against the Rangers in this situation. The last time came in the 1996 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, when Montreal won Games 1 and 2 at Madison Square Garden, but New York won the next four to advance.

Here are 5 keys for Game 5:


1. Alexei Emelin's return

Emelin will bolster the Canadiens defense if, as expected, he is able to play Game 5. Emelin, whose 241 hits led Montreal in the regular season, has been out since sustaining a lower-body injury on April 5. He practiced with his teammates Wednesday and played the right side paired with Nathan Beaulieu during the morning skate.

"First of all, he's a good, experienced player," Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. "He's a player we'd like to have in our lineup, and when I talked to him after practice, he said he felt good. So I told him he'll take the warmup and we'll make a decision after the warmup. So if all goes well, I hope to have him in the lineup. But we'll give him a chance to recover today and we'll see if he feels as good tonight as he did this morning."


2. Top scorers not producing

The regular-season goal-scoring leaders for each team, Rangers left wing Chris Kreider and Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty, have not scored in the series. Kreider does not have a point after leading New York with 28 goals in 75 games. Pacioretty, who has one assist, led Montreal with 35 goals and 67 points in 81 games.

"The last five years, you guys know the numbers better than I do, [Pacioretty] is one of the best goal-scorers in the world," Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher said. "For him to continue to work and continue to do the same things that he's always done his entire career is all he can really worry about. And he's obviously drawing a lot of attention from the other team as well. That's kind of what you see in the playoffs; there's five guys on the ice whenever he's on that are trying to not let him score. That's the time of the year when you obviously need other guys to step up and he's going to do his part; if he only scores one goal in this series it could be the biggest goal that we need."

Video: MTL@NYR, Gm3: Lundqvist rejects Pacioretty's redirect


3. Power outage for Rangers

The Rangers have not scored a power-play goal in the series. They are 0-for-12 after going 13-for-38 (34.2 percent) during their final 15 regular-season games. Montreal's penalty-killers had an 88.4 percent success rate through the end of the regular season after Julien replaced Michel Therrien, who was fired on Feb. 14.

"They do have very skilled players and they can make you pay at any time," Pacioretty said. "So just like our 5-on-5 game, we're trying to take away their time and space. I think the biggest thing is not to let them set up with too much time because they do have the skill guys, they do have guys that can shoot the puck. So we want to be stingy on their entries, but at the same time if they do get in the zone, try and pressure them into making a mistake right away, and that's always the recipe to a good penalty kill."


4. Henrik Lundqvist matching Carey Price

For most of his NHL career, Lundqvist has been the measuring stick other goaltenders have used to evaluate their performance and results. Rangers forward Derek Stepan believes Lundqvist relishes the chance to compete head to head against Price, who now owns that distinction.

"[Lundqvist] competes like a crazy man and to be able to have an opportunity to go against one of the best in the world, that's right up his alley and he loves that," Stepan said Wednesday. "I know he enjoys it. I've been around him long enough. He loves this stuff."

Video: MTL@NYR, Gm4: Lundqvist robs Gallagher's tip-in try


5. Staying neutral

The neutral zone has become prime battle territory for two teams that thrive on turnovers. Playing with a lead in Game 4, the Rangers were tight with their gaps late in the game and forced Montreal into seven icings in the final 7:45. The Canadiens had no space to attack through the neutral zone, so they tried for the home-run pass and it never connected.

"What we kept stressing was just making sure we're moving our feet coming out of our zone, keeping that good gap and taking what was given," Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "If we had room to carry it in, carry it in. If not, make sure we put it behind them. For the majority of that third period it was good consistent play by us."


Rangers projected lineup

Chris Kreider -- Mika Zibanejad -- Pavel Buchnevich

Jimmy Vesey -- Derek Stepan -- Rick Nash

J.T. Miller -- Kevin Hayes -- Mats Zuccarello

Michael Grabner -- Oscar Lindberg -- Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh -- Dan Girardi

Marc Staal -- Nick Holden

Brady Skjei -- Brendan Smith

Henrik Lundqvist

Antti Raanta

Scratched: Tanner Glass, Adam Clendening, Kevin Klein, Steven Kampfer, Matt Puempel, Magnus Hellberg

Injured: None


Canadiens projected lineup

Max Pacioretty -- Phillip Danault -- Alexander Radulov

Paul Byron -- Tomas Plekanec -- Brendan Gallagher

Artturi Lehkonen -- Alex Galchenyuk -- Andrew Shaw

Dwight King -- Steve Ott -- Torrey Mitchell

Andrei Markov -- Shea Weber 

Jordie Benn -- Jeff Petry

Nathan Beaulieu -- Alexei Emelin

Carey Price

Al Montoya

Scratched: Andreas Martinsen, Michael McCarron, Brian Flynn, Brandon Davidson, Nikita Nesterov

Injured: None


Status report

Buchnevich will play for the second straight game in place of Glass, who was among the players on the ice during New York's optional morning skate at Bell Centre. ... Davidson, who Emelin would replace in the lineup, was among five players who remained on the ice for extra work after the Canadiens' morning skate.


Who's hot

Nash has scored in two of the past three games. … Grabner has two goals. ... Radulov has six points (two goals, four assists) in four games. … Plekanec and Weber each have a goal and two assists.

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