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Rangers Reset As Focus Shifts to Game 3

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

Sometimes after a tough loss teams just want to get right back on the ice and avenge the disappointment from the previous contest.

But not this time.

The Rangers welcomed the two days between Games 2 and 3, which included a full off day on Sunday before a spirited practice Monday at the MSG Training Center.

"I think that extra days was huge," said Derek Stepan, who scored in Saturday's 6-5 double overtime loss to Ottawa that put New York in a 2-0 series hole. "It was an emotional loss and we move on from it and we get ourselves ready for Game 3. 

"We don't really have much of a choice at this point," Stepan added. "There's nothing we can do about Games 1 and 2. We just focus on [Game] 3." 

Coach Alain Vigneault also felt his squad would benefit from the two-day layoff between games for multiple reasons. It afforded his team a chance to turn the page on Saturday's defeat while also get better prepared for Tuesday's contest at Madison Square Garden.

"This extra day off has been beneficial for our group, both mentally and physically," he told reporters on Monday. "It gave us the coaches one more day to prepare and to look at a few things, work on a few things."

Those few things included extended video work and meetings with his coaching staff and General Manager Jeff Gorton to discuss any and all possible lineup changes when New York hosts the Senators for the first time in the series.

But the feeling inside the dressing room 48 hours after Saturday's game was optimistic. Game 1 was decided on a fluke goal by Erik Karlsson in the final minutes, while Saturday saw New York just unable to hold on to its third period lead.

Certainly there is room for improvement, but the Rangers don't feel as though this two-game hole is insurmountable.

"I thought we were making some strides in the right direction," defenseman Brendan Smith said. "Obviously we want to have a full 60 [minutes] so we don't give up opportunities there at the end. I think our game is getting better and that's what you want to do and that's what we did today is try to get better. Fix some of the areas I think we can clean up."

The Rangers are welcoming the friendly confines of MSG after the two games in Canada's capital city. The Blueshirts have won their last two playoff games at The Garden, including Game 6 last weekend that produced an atmosphere J.T. Miller said was one of its best since he arrived on Broadway.

"That last game, Game 6 last series, that was some of the loudest I've heard in The Garden," Miller stated. "I expect the building to have a lot of energy for us. I expect us to come out with a lot of energy ourselves."

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