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Adjustments to be Made As Series Shifts to MSG

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

The Rangers looked at the positives following a difficult 4-3 overtime loss Friday night in Game 2 against the Montreal Canadiens that saw New York surrender its one-goal lead with 17.3 seconds remaining in the game.

The Blueshirts are aware they were seconds away from taking a 2-0 series lead back to New York, but that they can't look at what if as the series resumes in New York Sunday evening.

"You have to have short-term memory," said Rick Nash, who had a goal in Game 2. "It has to be gone. It obviously happened but we have to learn from our mistakes and move on to [Sunday]."

There are positives to be had, including the fact the Rangers beat Carey Price three times Friday and Henrik Lundqvist has turned in two of his best performances of the season thus far in this first-round that saw him set a new playoff career-high with 54 saves in Game 2.

The biggest, though, is that they were able to split the first two games in the hostile environment of the Bell Centre, and now have the crowd on their side at Madison Square Garden.

"We're excited to feel the energy of our home crowd the same way that Montreal fed off their crowd [Friday] night," captain Ryan McDonagh said on Saturday.

"I've played playoff games at MSG," McDonagh added. "It's incredible. The fans they get so jacked up for it and it helps us players really stay in the moment out there and want to do what we can to win the game."

There are adjustments to be made on both sides, but one area the Rangers seem to be focusing on is getting back to clearing out traffic in front of the net to allow Lundqvist to see the puck. 

That was an area of strength in Game 1 when Lundqvist made 31 saves in a 2-0 victory, but was a weakness in Game 2, with both the game-tying and game-winning goals coming as a result of the Canadiens getting in close on Lundqvist and getting second and third chance opportunities.

"I think it was one of their keys to do a better job to get there," Nash said. "I think we have to do a better job boxing out. I think we let them have too many rebounds, too many jams, and I think a lot of it stems from our play at the bluelines. The wingers have to be better at getting pucks out once we get the opportunity."

The Rangers admitted to sitting back on their one-goal lead in the third period, with Derek Stepan adding that the team was unable to reset and apply pressure again once overtime began.

The center said that, too, would be an adjustment come Sunday.

"I think there's a number of things we can tighten up," Stepan said. "Subtle, little changes, but I think if we can try and do a better job through the neutral zone with our structure, I think we'll get the puck back and be able to put Montreal under a little pressure. We kind of sat back on our heels in the neutral zone and they were able to get it behind us, and that's what caused us to spend a lot of defensive zone time."

Like others, Stepan said he and his teammates are looking forward to rectifying Friday's mistake beginning Sunday at home.

"The way we're looking at it is we're in an opportunity here in a 1-1 series against Montreal on home ice and I think we have a group that understands the energy that's going to come from our fans," he said. "We'll use that and make some adjustments from Game 2 and get ourselves ready to win Game 3."

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