In a series that’s now tied at two apiece, Game 5 is a huge one for both the Rangers and Senators. It’ll start soon on NBC in Ottawa.
The Rangers got off the deck and swept the two home games with identical 4-1 wins. Both masterpieces. They were total team efforts. They didn’t rely on Henrik Lundqvist. But rather their depth. As proven in Game 4 with Oscar Lindberg scoring twice and Tanner Glass tallying two assists with seven hits and a key block. Michael Grabner had a primary helper on Lindberg’s first. There also was a Chris Kreider sighting for a second game in the series as he lit the lamp on the power play.
Defensively, the Rangers were very good at limiting Ottawa’s counter attack. They controlled the neutral zone and got their sticks on pucks breaking up plays and countering. It led to two Grabner breakaways with the second a smart patient one where he waited for a trailing Lindberg for a nice one-timer blast past Craig Anderson top shelf. There also was Kevin Hayes finding a cutting Nick Holden for a goal in which the defenseman went forehand for his first this postseason.
They outworked Ottawa. Glass and J.T. Miller combined on Lindberg’s second from distance with Glass distracting Anderson. Then Kreider put the cherry on top with a power play goal in the third. Lundqvist did give up a goal to Kyle Turris, who decided to engage Glass as the conclusion turned nasty. Somewhat predictable.
The Sens showed frustration. Now, they’re supposedly dressing Chris Neil as a reaction to Glass. One thing to remember if Neil does play, the Rangers can’t get sucked in. Neil is as tough as they come. He was effective against them in the 2012 first round. He’ll look to make the big hit, finish every check and be involved in scrums looking to draw reaction penalties.
The key for the Blueshirts today is to stay disciplined. Don’t go for Neil’s antics. The Senators crowd will be fired up with one of their most popular players likely in. This is the game the Rangers need. They lost the first two there. Both winnable. Game 1 on an Erik Karlsson sharp angle shot that deflected off Derek Stepan and Lundqvist’s mask and in late. Game 2 on Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s miraculous two deflection goals in the last 3:19. Then Pageau scored his fourth goal in the second overtime.
They want to play the same way. With good tape to tape passes, skating when the opportunity presents itself and getting pucks in behind Ottawa’s defense. Karlsson rested in the third period due to his ankle injury. He should be fresh. They can’t take it for granted. Even at 60 percent, Karlsson is dangerous. Anderson will be back in net.
There are no lineup changes for the Blueshirts. They want to limit penalties. Don’t give the Sens momentum. Take advantage of their aggressiveness. You know they’ll come out flying. If they can make smart defensive plays, they could get an early odd-man rush and cash it in. Getting an early lead would be huge to silence the crowd.
They’ll win if they play the right way. With the same desperation and without any panic. It must be a full 60. Nothing less will do.