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Rangers looking to stave off elimination in Game 5

by Mike G. Morreale /

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers have yet to experience a galvanizing moment against the Washington Capitals in their Eastern Conference Second Round series.

That moment potentially could take place Friday in Game 5 at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). The Rangers trail the best-of-7 series 3-1 and need to win three straight to keep their season alive.

A win on Friday would go a long way in instilling some confidence in the Presidents' Trophy-winning Rangers. It might also plant, perhaps, a seed of doubt into the minds of players on the Capitals.

"A win could do that, yes," Rangers forward J.T. Miller said. "We need a big moment to turn the series around, we're down 3-1. And it's not just about getting the big guys going because everybody needs to step up.

"We talk about difference makers and someone needing to step up and be that guy and there are a lot of guys on our team that can do that."

The Rangers have won each of their past eight playoff games when facing elimination at Madison Square Garden, dating back to Game 4 of the 2008 Eastern Conference semifinal round against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The eight-game streak, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, is an NHL record when facing elimination at home.

"It's going to be very loud starting from warm-ups; our fans are top notch so hopefully that's are clichéd sixth man," Rangers forward James Sheppard said. "We want to show up for them and want to win. I think we're going to be firing on all cylinders. We've got a lot more to prove. Hopefully we can extend our time [in the playoffs] and show what we can do."

The Rangers have scored five goals in four games against the Capitals and forwards Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis have none of them.

Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is 11-3 with a 1.36 goals-against average, two shutouts, and a .957 save percentage in 14 games when his team has faced elimination. He said he believes the team can turn this series around, but it all starts with a win on Friday.

"I think we know it's possible; it starts with believing you can do it but at the same time our focus is just on [Game 5]," he said. "It starts in the first period and we take it from there, but we also know that if we get a win they're going to have a lot of pressure. We have to leave everything out there."

Miller is also looking for his first goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs through nine games. Though it won't be easy, he said he anticipates another solid effort that hopefully will lead to more offensive support for Lunqvist.

"We've definitely been looking for a little more offense; they're not going in but we're getting plenty of chances and playing good hockey," Miller said. "Obviously you want more in the scoring column. [Lundqvist] has been playing unbelievable for us, keeping us in every single game and that's all you can ask from your goalie. We know he's one of the best in the world and he has been all playoffs."

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said he feels it's just a matter of time before his team is rewarded for all its zone time.

"[When] we analyze the two games in Washington we probably spent close to 70 percent of those games in their end getting some looks," Vigneault said. "There were some missed opportunities, there were some blocked shots, but I have a feeling that with the amount of time that we're spending in there, those opportunities that were just slightly off or getting blocked right now are due to start hitting the net and getting us Grade-A chances."

Here are the projected lineups:


Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Joel Ward

Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Jason Chimera

Andre Burakovsky - Jay Beagle - Troy Brouwer

Curtis Glencross - Brooks Laich - Tom Wilson

Brooks Orpik - John Carlson

Matt Niskanen - Karl Alzner

Mike Green - Tim Gleason

Braden Holtby

Justin Peters

Scratched: Michael Latta

Injured: Eric Fehr (upper body), John Erskine (neck surgery), Dmitry Orlov (wrist)


Rick Nash - Derick Brassard - Martin St. Louis

Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Jesper Fast

Carl Hagelin - Kevin Hayes - J.T. Miller

James Sheppard- Dominic Moore- Tanner Glass

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Dan Boyle

Keith Yandle - Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

Cam Talbot

Scratched: Ryan Bourque, Matt Hunwick, Chris Summers

Injured: Mats Zuccarello (upper body)

Status report: Zuccarello remains day-to-day. … Vigneault had the same line combinations intact that began Game 4 with the exception of pairing defenseman Staal with Boyle and Klein with Yandle. There's also a chance Vigneault will have Sheppard centering Miller and Glass and Moore centering Hagelin and Hayes at some point, as he did in the third period of Game 4.

Who's hot: Brassard leads the Rangers with five goals. He has scored at least one point in six of nine playoff games.


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