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Rangers want to eliminate Penguins on first try

by Dan Rosen / NHL.com

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers left wing Tanner Glass has an idea of what to expect from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, ROOT, MSG).

Glass was on the other side last season, when the Rangers rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the second round to beat the Penguins in seven games.

"Once we gave them Game 5 they got some momentum, got going a bit," Glass said. "We maybe weren't as hungry, didn't have that killer instinct, and allowed them to get back in the series."

The script is flipped now with the Rangers holding a 3-1 lead on the Penguins in the best-of-7 series. New York hasn't won a playoff series in five games since 2008. Five of its past six series wins have come in seven games.

"You get a little bit of momentum and it can carry you a long ways," Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh said. "[Last season] we got a little bit of momentum, won a game and found a little bit of hope. We've got to do our best to take out their belief and hope … have them kind of question if they have what it takes to get back in the game."

To do that the Rangers feel getting off to a strong start is a must. They survived and won Game 4 in overtime despite making the first period their worst period of the series. They were held to two shots on goal and trailed 1-0 after 20 minutes Wednesday.

"No one should see a repeat of that tonight," left wing Carl Hagelin said. "I think our team knows that when we're playing at our best we usually have a good start. If we give them as much time and space on the ice as we did there in the first they're going to score more than one goal."

The Rangers have been at their best in this series when they're getting pucks behind the Penguins' defensemen, either off the rush or off chips into the zone. They'd prefer to do it off the rush because they feel they have an advantage with their speed. But they know that a simple chip-in and a hard forecheck can put the Penguins on their heels.

The Rangers feel they haven't done that enough consistently. And when they haven't the Penguins have been able to be the aggressors, such as in the third period of Game 3 and the first period of Game 4.

The problem for Pittsburgh is it managed only one goal in each of those periods. One more goal and the series could be tied.

"I think if you asked anyone in this group we still have a lot of room to improve in a lot of areas of the game. And yet we find ourselves up 3-1," McDonagh said. "In the grand scheme of things we're trying to challenge ourselves to play up to our capabilities here, as close as we can to 60 minutes. We're trying to challenge ourselves to win a complete game."

Here are the projected lineups:

PENGUINS

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist

Blake Comeau - Evgeni Malkin - David Perron

Scott Wilson - Brandon Sutter - Steve Downie

Nick Spaling - Maxim Lapierre - Daniel Winnik

Paul Martin - Ben Lovejoy

Rob Scuderi - Ian Cole

Brian Dumoulin - Taylor Chorney

Marc-Andre Fleury

Thomas Greiss

Scratched: Craig Adams

Injured: Beau Bennett (upper body), Kris Letang (concussion), Christian Ehrhoff (upper body), Derrick Pouliot (upper body), Pascal Dupuis (blood clot), Olli Maatta (upper body)

RANGERS

Rick Nash - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - J.T. Miller

Carl Hagelin - Kevin Hayes - Martin St. Louis

Tanner Glass - Dominic Moore - Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Dan Boyle

Keith Yandle - Matt Hunwick

Henrik Lundqvist

Cam Talbot

Scratched: James Sheppard, Chris Summers

Injured: Kevin Klein (arm)

Status report: The Rangers will be using the same lineup, with the same lines, defense pairs and starting goalie, that they have used in the first four games. That means Klein, who is day-to-day as he recovers from his broken left arm, remains out. Klein has been skating, but coach Alain Vigneault said the bone in Klein's left arm is taking longer to heal than initially anticipated. Klein was injured blocking a shot by Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin on March 11. … Yandle and Zuccarello will be in the lineup after they missed practice Thursday. … The Rangers did not have a morning skate Friday; the only players that skated were Talbot, Klein, Sheppard and Summers.

Who's hot: Nash leads the Rangers with four points in four playoff games. … Brassard has a Rangers-high three goals. … The Rangers' defensemen have combined for 10 points, including three assists from Girardi, who is tied for the Rangers lead in assists with Nash. McDonagh has one goal and two assists.

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