While Tuesday is not a must-win for the Rangers after dropping the first two games of this best-of-seven series against the Senators in Ottawa, Mika Zibanejad said he and his teammates must have that mindset.
"Try and approach every game as a Game 7," he said Tuesday before Game 3 at Madison Square Garden. "You want to win every game. Now we try and come back home and we have our focus on winning tonight's game."
Despite the two, one-goal losses in Ottawa, the Rangers feel good about their play. But Zibanejad said there's "little things" New York must do a better job of beginning tonight against the Senators, including limiting Ottawa's space with the puck.
After two games in this series, both teams know what to expect from the other. Captain Ryan McDonagh said now the focus is on executing in all scenarios.
"In our minds we're just trying to be locked in here in all situations," he said. "We've played two games, seen a lot of different scenarios against them: special teams, five-on-five, playing with the lead, playing not with the lead. For us, whatever situation's out there, just try and be locked in and be as effective as we can be."
The core of this Rangers team has been behind in playoff series before. And with the razor thin evenness through two games, Dan Girardi said there's no reason New York should not feel good about itself heading into Game 3 despite the series hole.
"You've got to be confident this time of year no matter what happens," Girardi said. "Obviously the way we lost is not great, but we're past that now. We're moving forward. Tonight is just about having a good start, having some momentum, finishing some checks and get some shots on net and see what happens."
Zibanejad said there's a lot of words to describe the way the Rangers must play against the Senators tonight, but that ultimately it's about competing.
"I think it just comes down to our battle level," he said. "We have to make sure we outwork them and make that extra play to get the win and bounces on our side."
Head coach Alain Vigneault did not reveal any lineup change for Game 3, though both Pavel Buchnevich and Tanner Glass took part in the morning skate that was for those not dressing in tonight's game. He said he had spoken to his coaching staff and General Manager Jeff Gorton, but that everyone would "find out tonight."
New York spoke about limiting its penalties after taking four minors in Game 1, but ultimately took another five in Game 2, including 3 in roughly the first 10 minutes of the contest.
McDonagh said that while penalties will be called, it's necessary to remain disciplined because teams gain momentum from the man advantage if they don't score.
"We didn't get hurt last game, but it gives a team a lot of momentum," he said. "Skill players get to feel the puck and lot and get those situations with time and space it kind of helps to get you in the game a little bit better. Certainly we talked about it after Game 1 about not doing it, and sure enough we did it right away in Game 2. Hopefully we've learned our lesson there and if we do get into some penalty trouble, we'll have to take it with what it is and try to be effective again."