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Rangers Ready for Response from Senators in Game 4

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

The Rangers know a tougher task is awaiting them Thursday night when they try to even their best-of-seven series with the Ottawa Senators in Game 4 at Madison Square Garden.

In what was as close to a must-win game as there is, the Rangers responded to back-to-back losses in Ottawa with a 4-1 victory on home ice in Game 3 in what was one of the team's best efforts of the postseason.

But after the lopsided score, the Blueshirts are expecting a stronger effort from the Senators, who are looking to avoid going back home with a knotted series.

"They're going to come out hard," said defenseman Brendan Smith following the team's practice on Wednesday. "Any time a game is 4-1, normally you kind of get kicked in the butt and you respond. We're expecting them to bring a helluva an effort and we're going to have to respond and play one of our best games."

The Ranger were still riding high after their victory in Game 3 that saw four different players score with five others chipping in with a point. New York controlled the play for nearly the full 60 minutes, including a dominant first period that saw the Rangers jump out to a 2-0 lead.

That first period, according to Senators head coach Guy Boucher, was where New York won the game and Ottawa lost it.

"I think we wanted to come out with a good start and play fast. That's been a strength all year and we were able to do that in the first and be up 2-0 after one," said Jimmy Vesey. "I think when we're getting through the neutral zone like that and executing, we're a really tough matchup for other teams.

"I think we can take a lot of positives from last night," he added, "and hopefully carry them into tomorrow." 

Game 3 was just the first step for the Rangers, who now must win Thursday to get the series back to even before Game 5 Saturday afternoon in Ottawa.

Henrik Lundqvist said he's hoping for a similar effort Thursday night as he saw from his team Tuesday.

"Just need to understand how important the game is and the desperation and determination will come," Lundqvist said when asked how to avoid a letdown of emotion. "If you understand the importance, it's hard not to come with that desperation. It's a big one. We're going to try and tie it up here. We just continue doing the good things we've been doing the last couple games."

Head coach Alain Vigneault said his team has no reason to not be determined heading into Game 4.

"We've just won one game," he said. "Tomorrow is the most important game of the season for us and we have to be ready for the start."

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