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5 Keys: Rangers at Senators, Game 5

Defenseman Erik Karlsson will play for Ottawa; New York looks to use depth, speed to advantage

by Chris Stevenson / Correspondent


3 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports 

Best-of-7 series tied 2-2


OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Senators will try to take advantage of home ice and grab the lead in the Eastern Conference Second Round against the New York Rangers in Game 5 at Canadian Tire Centre on Saturday.

The best-of-7 series is tied 2-2 after each team won two games at home.

New York won Games 3 and 4 at Madison Square Garden, each 4-1, after Ottawa won at Canadian Tire Centre by scores of 2-1 and 6-5 in the second overtime.

The Senators have lost each of the 15 previous series when they lost back-to-back games.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, when teams have been tied 2-2 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the winner of Game 5 has won the series 78.7 percent of the time (196-54), including all three in 2017. 

Here are 5 keys to Game 5:

1. Erik Karlsson's health

Coach guy Boucher said Karlsson will play in Game 5 and won't have any restrictions. The Ottawa defenseman did not play the third period of Game 4 and was not putting any weight on his left foot when he headed to the locker room after the second. Following the first-round series against the Boston Bruins, Karlsson said he had two hairline fractures in his left heel.

Karlsson was wincing on the bench after he was in a battle with Rangers forward J.T. Miller along the boards near the end of the second period.

The Rangers have tried to hit Karlsson at every opportunity. That won't change.

"You have to try to hit him when you get a chance," Miller said. "That guy jumps by you, you know you're in trouble. So you have to make sure you hit him every time you get a chance."

Video: NYR@OTT, Gm1: Karlsson nets tough shot for lead


2. Rangers depth paying off

New York's bottom-six group of forwards had seven points in Game 4: two goals by Oscar Lindberg, and five assists from Tanner Glass (two), Michael Grabner, Kevin Hayes and Miller.

"When you look at the last winners, the good teams that make it far, they have guys that can score on their third and fourth lines, chip in and play also shutdown roles," Grabner said. "In playoffs, you need all four lines and six D going, and obviously a goalie standing on his head. That's what we've been doing so far."

Video: OTT@NYR, Gm4: Lindberg sweeps in Grabner's dish


3. Senators can't find target

New York blocked 22 shots in Game 4, when Otttawa had 23 shots on goal and missed the net with another 12. 

"It is tough to get those pucks to the net, much tougher than any opponent we've had all year," Boucher said. "They're all very dedicated and very good technically at blocking shots. I would say right now that's our biggest obstacle."


4. Picking up the pace

In Games 3 and 4, the Rangers looked like the faster team. The Senators have to find a way to increase the pace of their game to give them more room and time to make plays.

"We have to manufacture more offense out of no space," Boucher said. "That's what the playoffs are; it's a no-space game."


5. One and done

The Rangers have done an excellent job of keeping the Senators away from goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. When Ottawa has managed to get a shot on net, the New York defense has been boxing out the Senators and keeping them from getting second and third chances. 

The only Ottawa forwards to score in the series are Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who hasfive goals, Ryan Dzingel, who scored on the power play in Game 1, and Mark Stone and Kyle Turris, who each has an even-strength goal.

There has to be more determination on the part of the Senators to get to the net.

"It's going to hurt," Pageau said. "It's going to need some sacrifice to get there, but I'm sure everyone is willing to do it."

Video: NYR@OTT, Gm1: Dzingel nets first career playoff goal


Rangers projected lineup

Jimmy Vesey -- Derek Stepan -- Rick Nash

Chris Kreider -- Mika Zibanejad -- Mats Zuccarello

Michael Grabner -- Kevin Hayes -- Jesper Fast

Tanner Glass -- Oscar Lindberg -- J.T. Miller

Ryan McDonagh -- Dan Girardi

Marc Staal -- Nick Holden

Brady Skjei -- Brendan Smith

Henrik Lundqvist

Antti Raanta

Scratched: Pavel Buchnevich, Adam Clendening, Kevin Klein, Matt Puempel, Steven Kampfer, Brandon Pirri

Injured: None


Senators projected lineup

Viktor Stalberg -- Derick Brassard -- Mark Stone

Ryan Dzingel -- Kyle Turris -- Bobby Ryan

Mike Hoffman -- Jean-Gabriel Pageau -- Tom Pyatt

Clarke MacArthur -- Zack Smith -- Alexandre Burrows

Marc Methot -- Erik Karlsson

Dion Phaneuf -- Cody Ceci

Ben Harpur -- Chris Wideman

Craig Anderson

Mike Condon

Scratched: Tommy Wingels, Chris Kelly, Fredrik Claesson, Chris Neil, Colin White, Jyrki Jokipakka, Chris DiDomenico

Injured: Mark Borowiecki (lower body)


Status report

Inserting grinding forward Chris Neil into the lineup for Game 5 is a possibility, Boucher said. "I consider everybody," he said. "Every game, we sit down and we look at everybody that's available and why we want a certain player for where we are at that moment. He's part of the mix, for sure." Neil played the final game of the regular season after missing 21 games with a broken finger. He has not played in the playoffs.

Who's hot

Zibanejad has seven points (one goal, six assists) in the playoffs. … Zuccarello has six points (four goals, two assists). … McDonagh has six points (one goal, five assists). … Lundqvist has 61 career NHL playoff wins, tied with Tom Barrasso for 13th all-time and one ahead of Marc-Andre Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins among active goaltenders. … Glass has three assists in the past two games. … Ryan has eight points (four goals, four assists).

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