New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators, 7:00 PM at Madison Square Garden
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game Five (Series Tied 2-2)
Where To Watch: MSG Network
Where To Listen: 1050 ESPN Radio, and newyorkrangers.com
Live In-Game Chat: 6:45 PM on BlueshirtsUnited.com
Somehow in a series where they have not trailed for a single second---except at the end of two overtime games---the Rangers face a near must-win this evening when they host the Ottawa Senators in Game 5 of their best-of-seven opening-round playoff series. Coming off their second overtime defeat in Wednesday's Game 4, the Rangers find themselves even two games apiece with Ottawa, and seeking to find consistent offensive pressure to go with their own solid defensive play and goaltending. Ranger players believe that had they scored another goal in Game 4 when they held a 2-0 lead that the end result would have been different. So that will be a major focus for the home team moving forward, with Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards (one goal each through four games) certainly looking to be difference makers offensively. Defensively the Rangers will want to continue to do much of what they have done so well throughout this series so far---including shutting down 30-goal scorers Milan Michalek (one goal in the series) and Jason Spezza (no goals)---while contending with Ottawa's quick counterattacks and overall team speed. It is not yet known if Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson will be able to play tonight, though it seems unlikely. Alfredsson has not skated since Monday morning after suffering a concussion in Saturday's Game 2 at The Garden. Ottawa might also have to replace Jesse Winchester tonight after he was hust (upper body injury) and knocked out of Game 4 on Wednesday. Rangers forward Carl Hagelin will serve the third and final game of his suspension for his elbowing major on Alfredsson tonight and will be eligible to return for Game 6 Monday in Ottawa.
Rangers: Marian Gaborik-Following a 41-goal regular season and All Star Game MVP performance, Gaborik has scored just one goal and---more surprisingly---fired just seven shots on goal through the first four games of this series so far. Gaborik scored his lone series goal and recorded four of his shots in the Rangers 4-2 victory in Game 1. He has had just three shots on goal since, and has to find a way to break through against the tight-checking Ottawa has blanketed him with in this series.
Senators: Sergei Gonchar-While much attention is paid to fellow Sens blueliner Erik Karlsson, Gonchar has had a quietly effective two-way series, so far. The veteran defenseman stepped forward offensively in Game 4, scoring the tying goal on a power play slap shot and earning an assist with a strong outlet pass on the overtime game-winner by Kyle Turris. Gonchar's experience, poise, and skill could be a factor in a crucial Game 5 tonight.
"I don't think anyone in here is thinking about the pressure of the sitiuation. We believe in our foundation on defense and realize we need (to score) goals to win games. We know what we have gotten ourselves into, and we have worked hard all year to get into the playoffs and be where we are now. This is something you play the whole year for. It's exciting and fun."-Ryan McDonagh
The Rangers are 23-31 all-time in Game 5 in the playoffs. Last year they were eliminated in the fifth game of the first round by the Washington Capitals on the road.
Henrik Lundqvist has posted a .940 save percentage through the first four games of the playoffs to go along with a 1.97 goals against average. Lundqvist has now played 39 career post-season games and has posted a 17-22 record.
Will the Rangers win tonight's critical Game 5? Share your prediction below.
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