Rangers preparing for a night without handshakes vs. Senators

New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) and centre Derek Stepan (21) react after the Ottawa Senators scored late to tie the game during the third period in game five of a second-round NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoff series in Ottawa on Saturday, May 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

NEW YORK – The New York Rangers should feel comfortable coming back home to Madison Square Garden. They get to sleep in their own beds, use their own dressing room and not have to worry about travel or hotels.

That comfort has helped play a role in their 4-1 record at home this postseason, with those four wins coming in a row since Game 3 against the Montreal Canadiens in Round 1.

That comfort will also help them Tuesday night as they play for their season in Game 6 with the Ottawa Senators holding a 3-2 series lead.

The comfort is the same, and so will be the approach, though it’s not just your average game day.

“It’s obviously not just another game, there’s a lot more at stake. But as far as what goes into it, your preparation and finding your zones so that you can go out there and execute, the same things apply and that’s what our guys are going to do tonight,” said Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault.

Vigneault and his players were staying positive despite the challenge that lay ahead for them: Win Tuesday and then win a Game 7 Thursday night in Ottawa, where they’ve lost all three games in this series.

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“We’re going to talk about what we need to do. We’re not going to talk about the outcome at all,” Vigneault said. “We’re going to talk about the process going out there and working real hard and staying in the moment. That’s going to be our focus tonight.”

Back to comfort level, the Rangers face elimination with Henrik Lundqvist in goal. Given his history with the team’s season on the line that could bode well for their survival as NHL.com’s Dan Rosen noted.



That’s all well and good going into Game 6, but as Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh said, there can’t be an assumed expectation that they will play well only because they’re wearing the blue jerseys and playing in front of the home crowd.

“Experience can only go so far. You’ve got to have the right mindset, for sure,” he said. “It helps with your preparation, but as far as going out and playing and executing, playing sharp, with and without the puck, those are actions. You’ve got to go out and do it and make it happen.”

We’ll find out if the Senators learned any lessons from their failed first attempt at closing out a team this postseason. Up 3-1 in their Round 1 series versus that Boston Bruins, they fell in double overtime in Game 5 after being up 2-0 in the second period. They would rebound and advance after a Game 6 win.

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The Rangers will be a desperate hockey team Tuesday night, and they’ve done all they can since Saturday’s Game 5 loss to come into this elimination game not thinking how this could be the end to their season.

“You try to put everything in a positive way so that it helps you. Is it a pressure situation? Yes, but you just try to enjoy that and see it as a great challenge,” said Lundqvist. “Right now you do whatever you can to raise your level and be ready for [Game 6] and play your best game and see how far it takes you. No matter what happens you want to feel like you left everything out there and it starts with preparation.”

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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