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Rangers seek more special-teams success in Game 2

by Tal Pinchevsky

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers were able to win Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Philadelphia Flyers with a penalty kill followed by two power-play goals 47 seconds apart.

Heading into Game 2 on Sunday at Madison Square Garden (noon ET; NBC, TSN, RDS), the Rangers know that continuing that success on special teams would likely swing the best-of-7 series in their favor.

Following a successful kill of Ryan McDonagh's high-sticking penalty early in the third period, New York scored twice after Philadelphia forward Jason Akeson was assessed a four-minute penalty for a high stick. The sequence decided the 4-1 win.

"You look at all the series right now, power play and penalty killing are always big deciders of momentum during the game," New York coach Alain Vigneault said after practice Saturday. "The last game, our penalty kill gave us that big kill at the beginning of the third against a really good power play and then our power play was able to get us those two quick goals."

New York's penalty kill ranked third in the NHL with an 85.3 percent rate and has been an asset all season. The power play was struggling as the Rangers wrapped up the regular season. In their last 20 games, the Rangers went 7-for-62 (11.3 percent). That number is inflated, considering one of the goals was into an empty net against the New Jersey Devils on March 22.

The Rangers power play was 2-for-6 to start the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"If you're [tied] 1-1 on the road in the third, you're not really worrying. That's a good spot to be in," said Brad Richards, who scored one power-play goal and set up another by Derek Stepan. "The difference was we got four minutes and they got two, they didn't score and we scored. When you look back at it, that's where the game changed."

Stepan said, "We got into a little dip at the end of the season but that doesn't change our mindset and how we have to go out and execute. That's not going to change from Game 1 to Game 2. We have to make sure that we're sharp."

Vigneault did not reveal if he would make any lineup changes for Sunday but the expectation is he will stick with the winning formula in Game 2.

Here are the projected lineups:


Rick Nash - Derek Stepan - Martin St. Louis

Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Jesper Fast

Benoit Pouliot - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello

Dominic Moore - Brian Boyle - Derek Dorsett

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Anton Stralman

John Moore - Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

Cam Talbot

Scratched: Daniel Carcillo, Justin Falk, Raphael Diaz, Ryan Haggerty, J.T. Miller

Injured: Chris Kreider (hand)


Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Michael Raffl - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds

Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Jason Akeson

Zac Rinaldo - Vincent Lecavalier - Adam Hall

Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn

Mark Streit - Nicklas Grossmann

Andrew MacDonald - Luke Schenn

Ray Emery

Calvin Heeter

Scratched: Erik Gustafsson, Hal Gill, Jay Rosehill, Chris Vandevelde

Injured: Steve Mason (upper body), Steve Downie (upper body)

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