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Rangers prepared to start another rally in Game 5

New York needs 3-1 series comeback; Pittsburgh looking to move on

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent


Eastern Conference First Round

Pittsburgh leads best-of-7 series 3-1

TV: 3 p.m. ET; NBC, TVA Sports, SN360

The New York Rangers are the only NHL team to have rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs two straight years.

If they hope to move past the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference First Round, they'll have to do it again. Their comeback attempt will begin in Game 5 at Consol Energy Center on Saturday.

"You can't think because you've done it in the past you will necessarily do it," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said Friday. "But you can believe a little bit. We've been there and have been in those situations and I think what made it possible was that narrow focus of staying in the moment. That's what we are going to preach."

After a 5-0 loss in Game 4 at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, which marked the Rangers' fifth consecutive home playoff loss, the Rangers will attempt to regain some momentum with a change of scenery. They have won five of their past six playoff games in Pittsburgh, dating to a 5-1 win in Game 5 of the 2014 Eastern Conference Second Round.

In that second-round series, the Rangers trailed the Penguins 3-1 after losing three straight games entering Game 5 in Pittsburgh. The Rangers allowed one goal in each of the three remaining games to win the series in seven.

In 2015 the Rangers faced a 3-1 second-round deficit against the Washington Capitals. They again won the final three games, including 2-1 victories in overtime in Games 5 and 7.

The Penguins players said they aren't concerned with the Rangers' success when trailing in series the past two years. They are focused on performing at the same level that got them two wins at Madison Square Garden and a chance to close the series at home.

"We have to be ready to go," Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta said. "We have to have the same mind-set we had yesterday. … There are [potentially] three games left and we have to take it one game at a time. That's what it is."

Rangers team scope: Goalie Henrik Lundqvist will be back in net. He was pulled in the second period after allowing four goals on 18 shots in Game 4. Lundqvist played well in Games 2 and 3 after taking a stick to the eye from teammate Marc Staal late in the first period in Game 1. Following New York's practice Friday, Lundqvist said his Game 4 performance bothered him throughout the previous night. "It was a long night. It was one where you reflect a little bit," he said. "We just want to answer and we have to leave everything we have tomorrow. It's the biggest game of the year with the season on the line here, so this practice is about clearing our heads a little bit." Vigneault said he is considering inserting defenseman Raphael Diaz, who spent the regular season in the American Hockey League, into the lineup to help the power play. The Rangers are 1-for-16 on the power play in the series.

Penguins team scope: Pittsburgh's lineup should be the same as the one from Game 4. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury skated without pads for about 20 minutes before practice Friday but Matt Murray and Jeff Zatkoff were the only goalies present for the practice, making it likely Murray will make a third consecutive start after missing the first two games of the series because of an upper-body injury. "I just look at things as a challenge," Murray said. "I think the best way to face a challenge is head-on, so I definitely don't want to shy away. You want to be assertive." Coach Mike Sullivan did not update Fleury's status a day after saying Fleury is "going through a process" and remains day-to-day. Fleury has not played since sustaining his second concussion of the season March 31. Forward Bryan Rust was by the bench before practice but did not take the ice. Sullivan said Rust, who played 12:16 on Thursday, had a maintenance day.

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