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NEW YORK -- Filip Chytil is getting back into the groove of playing again while also staying honest with himself about what he's capable of doing for the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final.

"It's different than if I would have played every game all season," the 24-year-old forward said. "I missed over 80 games and I know that. So it's different but I'm just competing, playing hard and doing what I can out there."

Chytil nearly was the overtime hero in Game 2 against the Florida Panthers at Madison Square Garden on Friday, but his shot attempt off a rebound ticketed for an empty net was instead blocked by defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson's backside at 10:53 of overtime.

The Rangers still won 2-1 on a goal by forward Barclay Goodrow at 14:01 to even the best-of-7 series 1-1 going into Game 3 at Amerant Bank Arena on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, SN, TVAS, CBC).

It's expected to be Chytil's third straight game in the lineup, an achievement nobody was sure would be an option after he sustained an upper-body injury Nov. 2 followed by an unexpected setback in his recovery during an optional morning skate Jan. 26.

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Chytil returned to skate with New York in April and finally got back in the lineup in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Second Round, but that was short-lived; an illness kept him out of Game 4, and then he didn't play in Games 5 or 6, either.

They were the 80th and 81st games he missed this season.

But he has played in the first two games of the conference final, and in Game 2 he played 20:09 on 29 shifts, many on the top line with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. 

He played only 9:17 on 13 shifts in Game 1, when he was skating on the third line with Alex Wennberg and Kaapo Kakko.

"For me it's still big excitement that I can play and a lot of adrenaline goes into it," Chytil said. "I'm just proud of this that I can be there, and I will do everything for us to win the game. I will do all the hard things on every shift."

Chytil has been through a lot just to get to this point, but he's not yet close to the player he was in training camp and at the start of the season, when he was the Rangers' No. 2 center for the first 10 games, playing between Artemi Panarin and Alexis Lafrenière, dishing out six assists.

That's his harsh reality right now, and it's something the Rangers are trying to work through.

In normal circumstances, Chytil would be expected to be a productive, dangerous player. In some cases through the first two games, he has been. But New York coach Peter Laviolette said normal expectations are not realistic at the moment.

"With that player in particular I think there's a balance you have to try to find," Laviolette said. "We have a player who missed a substantial amount of time, who has come back and worked hard to try to get back up to speed. I think with that there's got to be some reps and there's got to be some opportunity for him to do that. 

"From there, there will be an expectation that in order to get those minutes, in order to get those opportunities it has to be productive as well. I understand his capabilities of what he could do if he would be the player who came to camp, but there was just an awful lot of time that was off for him. 

"This is truly the meaning of catching that moving train. It's moving pretty quick and he missed a lot of time. We're trying to get him back up to speed so we monitor it and see how he does."

Chytil said this is all uncharted waters for him.

"When you're not playing for a long time and you're out there in the moment you're using more of muscle memory than the consistency of what you're doing every day," Chytil said. "But this is the conference finals and nobody is asking if I didn't play or if I did play, I just have to give my best and help the team win the game. That's all I'm thinking about. I'm not thinking about anything else."

He said it would be too mentally stressful to get caught up in what he isn't doing or can't do enough of just yet.

"Just give my best with what I can do right now," Chytil said. "That's the only mindset that I have, because if I were to think too much about, 'We're in the conference finals' and 'It's not a regular season' or that 'I missed that much time' it would just kill my head. I know it sounds like a cliche, but every shift matters for me. When I go out there, I go with freedom and feel good and my head feels great."

That's the best news of all. A clean bill of health and a regular shift is all Chytil has wanted for more than six months. 

Now that he has reached that point, seven more wins and maybe a goal or two or more would make him feel even better.

But he's not about to get greedy. Not yet at least.

"I'm honest to myself," Chytil said.