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Rangers take it up a notch to get back in series

China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-04 06:53

Rangers take it up a notch to get back in series

Brendan Smith of the New York Rangers slams Cody Ceci of the Ottawa Senators into the boards during the third period of Tuesday's Game 3 of the NHL's Eastern Conference semifinal at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers won 4-1. Bruce Bennett / Getty Images / Afp

NEW YORK - Mats Zuccarello got the New York Rangers off to a fast start on Tuesday night as they cruised to a crucial win over the Ottawa Senators.

Zuccarello had a goal and an assist in the first period to pace the Rangers to 4-1 victory that cut the Senators' lead in the best-of-seven NHL Eastern Conference semifinal to 2-1.

Michael Graber, Rick Nash and Oscar Lindberg also scored for New York while Henrik Lundqvist turned aside 26 shots.

Looking to avoid giving Ottawa a stranglehold on the series, the Rangers came out flying from the opening whistle, outshooting the Senators 15-5 in the first period while building a 2-0 lead.

"We came out aggressive and played a real solid first period," Zuccarello said. "I think that we set the tone right away."

The Rangers have won three straight playoff games at Madison Square Garden after losing six in a row on home ice, including Game 3 of the quarterfinal against Montreal.

"There's no doubt we played a strong game," said New York coach Alain Vigneault.

"We were able to score a couple, get some early pace and bring it home."

Zuccarello got the crowd fired up when he opened the scoring at 5:31. Mika Zibanejad brought the puck up the right boards, circled the Ottawa net while fighting off a defender and sent a pass in front to Zuccarello, who beat Craig Anderson for his 11th career playoff goal.

Grabner made it 2-0 nine minutes later. Zuccarello sent the puck along the boards on the left side behind the Ottawa net and Grabner beat Anderson and defenseman Ben Harpur to it before depositing a wraparound into the open net.

"I was just trying to dump it in deep," Zuccarello said. "It was a lucky play and a good job by Mike to steal the puck."

Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who had four goals in Ottawa's 6-5 double-overtime win in Game 2, scored again for the Senators, and Anderson finished with 26 saves.

"The game was lost in the first period," Senators coach Guy Boucher said.

"They were ready, they were hungry, they were desperate and we didn't match that at all."

Game 4 is on Thursday.

The Senators came out with more intensity in the second period, getting the first three shots of the period.

Ottawa had a 12-9 advantage on shots in the middle frame but fell further behind.

Lundqvist, who leads all goalies with 289 saves in the playoffs, made a nice stick save on Pageau in the opening minute of the second, and both goalies made some nice stops through the middle of the period to keep the score 2-0.

"We didn't give up that much," Lundqvist said.

"It felt like we were in control for the most part and played a really smart game. I think everybody felt like we played tough when we needed it the most."

Nash increased the Rangers' lead with his 15th career postseason goal - third this year - with 7:39 remaining in the middle period.

After Ottawa defensemen Erik Karlsson and Harpur collided near center ice, Derek Stepan brought the puck down the middle and passed to Nash, whose shot from the left circle handcuffed Anderson.

Lindberg made it 4-0 with 1:43 left in the period, converting a pass from JT Miller, who fought off a defender along the left boards before sliding the puck into the slot.

That gave the Rangers a goal from each of their four lines.

"That's huge, especially in the playoffs you need every line kind of going," Nash said. "Tonight we had that, and it was obviously a difference maker."

Pageau spoiled Lundqvist's shutout bid just 32 seconds after Lindberg's goal when he snared a backhand pass from Bobby Ryan and scored his sixth of the postseason.

"They obviously played with a lot more desperation than we did from the start of the game," Karlsson said. "We just couldn't catch up at the end of the day. They started better and that's why they won this game."

Associated Press


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