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Senators must focus on start, not finish against Rangers in Game 6

Coach Guy Boucher wants better first 10 minutes to help Ottawa advance to Eastern Conference Final

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Ottawa Senators coach Guy Boucher would prefer his players focus on the start rather than the finish prior to puck drop for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

The Senators lead the best-of-7 series 3-2 and are one win from reaching the Eastern Conference Final for the third time in their history and first since 2007.

Ottawa has held a lead for 13:10 in the series and allowed the first goal in all five games. The Senators never led in their two games at the Garden, and were outplayed in the opening 10 minutes of 4-1 defeats in Game 3 and Game 4.

The Rangers took a 2-0 lead on 15 shots in the first period of Game 3, and a 1-0 lead on 11 shots in the first period of Game 4.

"We need to be better than the last time we were here," Senators coach Guy Boucher said. "We've got to have a good 10-minute start because we know they'll come out surging. We want a good start and having a good start doesn't necessarily mean we have to have the lead, but we just don't want to give up freebies and want to have a push back right away because we know they're going to be surging. Whatever happens in the first period, we have to manage it like we did the last game and give ourselves a chance."

The Senators fell behind 2-0 in Game 5 on Saturday at Canadian Tire Centre but settled down, scored the next three goals and won 5-4 in overtime.

Video: NYR@OTT, Gm5: Turris goes five-hole for OT win

"When it was 2-0, the guys were saying all the right things on the bench and had energy and confidence," Boucher said. "We made two mistakes and it was in the back of our net. We recognized that and dealt with it the way we know how.

"We know what's coming [in Game 6]. They have a crazy crowd and they'll be at their best with all the urgency in the world."

Defenseman Erik Karlsson, who played 31:09 in Game 5 and ranks first among players in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in average ice time (28:57), said regardless of whoever scores first, doesn't change how Ottawa needs to play to be successful.

"The first goal doesn't really matter," Karlsson said. "It's all about how you think you feel on the ice and the way you're playing the game. You know the other team will do things well. We have to find a way to start the game we want and feel good about the way we're playing. We can't change the things we do successfully if they score first."

Video: NYR@OTT, Gm5: Brassard deflects in late equalizer

Boucher said all lineup decisions will be made Tuesday. Forward Chris Neil replaced Ryan Dzingel, and defenseman Fredrik Claesson played for Ben Harpur, on Saturday.

Neil, 37, made his 2017 playoff debut Game 5. He played 2:26 and was given a 10-minute misconduct in the second period after an unsuccessful attempt to draw Rangers forward Tanner Glass into a fight. Boucher didn't rule out Neil playing again in Game 6.

"Whenever you get the call to go in it's exciting, especially this time of the year," Neil said. "My game doesn't change whether I'm out a month or haven't played in two months. I forecheck hard, get in on the puck, hold guys accountable out there. That's what I've done my whole career."

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