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Rangers return home looking to force Game 7

by Tal Pinchevsky


(Pittsburgh leads best-of-7 series 3-2)


Big story: The New York Rangers avoided elimination in their Eastern Conference Second Round series with a 5-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5 at Consol Energy Center on Friday. They have to do it again in Game 6 at Madison Square Garden to force a deciding Game 7 in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

With forward Martin St. Louis playing despite the sudden passing of his mother one day earlier, the Rangers rallied and came up with arguably their best performance of the best-of-7 series. The objective heading into another Stanley Cup Playoff elimination game is to continue that strong, balanced play.

"They extended the series to Game 6, and it's really not about a seven-game series, it's about getting four wins," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said Saturday. "You should be desperate to do that in every opportunity, and we have that opportunity to do it in Game 6 and we should realize they're going to be at their very best again going back home."

Sunday marks exactly one year since the Penguins came to New York and defeated the New York Islanders in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals to advance to the second round.

Team Scope:

Penguins: Going on the road for Game 6 shouldn't be unfamiliar to Pittsburgh. Two of the Penguins' past three playoff series wins came by winning Game 6 on the road.

"We know it's not going to be easy," Bylsma said. "We know it's not going to be something they hand to you where you punch your ticket and you move on to the next opportunity. You have to earn it."

Rangers: Forward Chris Kreider could play a sizable role in New York extending its season for a second time. After missing more than a month with a hand injury, Kreider returned in Game 4 and scored his first goal of the postseason in Game 5.

"It's not easy to step into playoff hockey having missed 19 games and not having other than a morning skate a practice with the team. So obviously that's a big challenge for him," coach Alain Vigneault said of Kreider. "The fact that for close to seven weeks he couldn't stickhandle, couldn't do anything, obviously was a challenge for him. But that's as good as I've seen anybody respond that hasn't had a full team practice, stepping in and playing."

Who's hot: Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin has six goals in his past six games. Defenseman Kris Letang has five points in the series. Forward Jussi Jokinen saw his eight-game point streak end Friday; he has eight points in nine games. … Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello has four points in his past two games. Defenseman Ryan McDonagh has three points in his past two games after not having one in his first 10.

Injury report: Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik (undisclosed), goaltender Tomas Vokoun (blood clot), and forwards Pascal Dupuis (knee) and Chris Conner (hand) are out. … The Rangers report no injuries.

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