New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators, 7:00 PM at Madison Square Garden
Game Two, Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Rangers lead series 1-0
Where To Watch: MSG Network
Where To Listen: 1050 ESPN Radio, and newyorkrangers.com
Live In-Game Chat: 6:45 PM on BlueshirtsUnited.com
After a strong start to the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs on Thursday the Rangers look to retain home-ice advantage tonight when they host the Ottawa Senators in Game Two of their first-round series. The Rangers scored the first four goals of the game---and of the series---en-route to a 4-2 victory on Thursday, but Ottawa controlled large swaths of play during the first and second periods before New York pulled away late in the middle stanza. Look for the Rangers to try and impose their will for longer stretches of this evening's game, and to ramp up their physical play. Both teams were credited with 37 hits in the opener---Ryan Callahan led the Rangers with seven---and it would not be surprising for the Blueshirts to surpass that number in Game Two. Four different Rangers scored goals on Thursday---including the team's top three goal producers from the regular season in Marian Gaborik (41), Callahan (29), and Brad Richards (25)---while Henrik Lundqvist and Co. did a solid job keeping Ottawa's top guns from finding the back of the net. The Sens will look for a stronger game from their goalie Craig Anderson, who made 27 saves in Game One, but struggled to make the key timely saves unlike his counterpart Lundqvist, who was a one-man show at times during Ottawa surges. Neither team scored a power play goal in Thursday's opener---New York was 0-4, Ottawa was 0-3---and special teams, as always during the post-season, will be a key for both teams tonight. Neither team suffered any injuries on Thursday, though official lineups for tonight's Game Two have yet to be announced.
Rangers-Artem Anisimov: The 23 year-old Russian saw his goal and point production fall slightly this past season, in what was expected to be more of a breakout year for him. However, right from his first shift in Game One, Anisimov stood out Thursday with his aggressive and confident play. While continuing his strong defensive-zone play, Anisimov also assisted on Ryan Callahan's goal in the first period and Brian Boyle's in the second, finishing with two shots on goal and 15:14 worth of ice-time. Improved offensive play from Anisimov would be a huge boost for the Rangers tonight, and throughout this series.
Senators-Erik Karlsson: A fairly quiet playoff opener for the league's top-scoring defenseman on Thursday, Karlsson was limited to three shots on goal, and no points. The Rangers did a good job either blocking or altering Karlsson's shots, especially on the power play, as six of his attempted shots were either blocked or sailed wide of the net. They also played the 21 year-old very physically and must continue to do so throughout the series. For Ottawa to achieve any kind of success, Karlsson must be the engine that makes their offensive motor run.
"We have to realize that we have to be a lot better (tonight). They had the puck a lot in the second period (Thursday) and if they scored a goal to make it 1-1 things could be different today. And we understand that. They are a good team, and they're very quick. We realize their strengths, but we just want to keep building on (the first game)."-Brad Richards
The Rangers blocked 20 shots in Game One---Dan Girardi leading the way with four. Twelve of the Blueshirts' 18 skaters blocked at least one shot.
Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson scored his 46th career post-season goal on Thursday, most of any player taking part in this series. His goal ruined Henrik Lundqvist's bid for his fourth career post-season shutout.
Will the Rangers hold serve with a victory on home ice again tonight? Share your game prediction below.
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