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Rangers Hoping Momentum is On Their Side

Blueshirts look to carry over strong play from Game 4 into Montreal

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

MONTREAL -- If there's such thing as momentum from game to game in a playoff series, the Rangers are hoping it's on their side following the team's 2-1 victory over the Canadiens in Game 4 Tuesday night.

"I tread carefully saying momentum carries from game to game, but if it's there we'll try and take it with us," said Derek Stepan following the team's practice on Wednesday before flying to Montreal. "But I'm not sure if it will be. We're focusing in on our first shift and our first period."

Looking around the playoffs, there could be something to momentum. Pittsburgh won three straight before Columbus staved off elimination Tuesday night, while Ottawa has won three straight after dropping their opening game to Boston.

But coach Alain Vigneault wasn't sold on the 'M' word. All he's focused on is carrying over the positives from Tuesday's win back into the hostile environment that is the Bell Centre.

"The team that wins say they have momentum and the team that loses probably says there isn't momentum from game to game. Isn't that the typical answer?," Vigneault said. "I liked the way we played yesterday."

The Rangers' ability to rebound in Game 4 after Sunday's Game 3 performance now gives the team a chance to win Thursday and return home Saturday with a chance to advance to the second-round.

But while people on the outside could be looking ahead to Game 6, those inside the room certainly aren't.

"We basically go one game at a time, one shift at a time," said defenseman Brendan Smith, who has been one of the Blueshirts' top defensemen through the first four games of the series. "I know that sounds cliché, but really we're not even looking at Game 6. We're looking at Game 5. For sure if you can get that - the fans are excited - for us we just want to come out and play another good game."

Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist - who is rocking a 1.88 GAA and a .944 SV% thus far in the series - said he isn't changing the methodology he had going into the first two games in Montreal. 

"I feel like I'm going to have the same approach tomorrow as I did in Game 1 and Game 2," Lundqvist said. "It's 2-2. It hasn't really changed. You go out there and you want to try and win this game. It's a big one."

Lundqvist and the Rangers are preparing for their sixth playoff game at Bell Centre in the last four postseasons. Has a level of comfort been created after so many contests in that building?

"Absolutely not," Stepan said. "That build is never comfortable. It's funny, I've been around for how many years, been playing in playoff games - I still get those butterflies going into any game. It doesn't matter if its Game 1 or Game 7, you still get those jitters, [that] playoff excitement and adrenaline running through you. 

I don't like the word comfortable at this time of the year," Stepan added. "I think it's not a good word. I don't think you're ever comfortable in any series, let alone at the Bell Centre."

With that said, there's no denying the Rangers have had success in Montreal, winning three of their last five since Game 1 of the 2014 Eastern Conference Final, and six of their eight playoff games total in that building.

"We're going to Montreal. We gave ourselves an opportunity," Vigneault said. "I've liked the way we've played in their building so far. I thought we played well in Game 1 and I thought we played well for the first two periods in Game 2. We're going there, we have an opportunity and we're going to work real hard."

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The Rangers are expected to deploy the same lineup in Game 5 as it did in Game 4, as both Kevin Klein and Tanner Glass skated with the other extras Thursday morning at the Bell Centre.

New York is 10-5 in their last 15 postseason games which were Games 5 through 7 of a playoff series, dating back to Game 7 against Philadelphia in 2014.

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