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Rangers look to rebound in Game Three in Pittsburgh; Klein still out of lineup

Bobby Bevilacqua

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The Rangers have had success in Pittsburgh over the last two seasons, and the team needs a win to regain momentum tonight in Game 3. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Following a loss in Game 2 in which Alain Vigneault said they need to play better as a team, the Rangers will look to come out strong and recapture their home-ice advantage tonight in the first game in the series at the CONSOL Energy Arena in Pittsburgh.

Under Alain Vigneault, the Rangers have been a very competitive team away from the Garden, setting a franchise record in road wins this season with 28. New York will need to channel that success tonight in a crucial Game Three in an attempt to swing momentum back in their favor.

In the two games played there in the regular season, the Rangers were 1-0-1. The one loss was in the shootout, and they followed that up with a strong 5-2 win in January. New York also played well in Pittsburgh during last year’s playoff series, winning three of the four games played there, including elimination games in Game 5 and Game 7.

But the venue is not as important as how the Rangers need to play tonight. The effort in Game 2 was underwhelming. The Penguins weren’t necessarily playing an overly aggressive game, but their conservative, patient style coupled with their element of desperation was not matched by the Rangers. The defensive coverage wasn’t there either, with Pittsburgh scoring all four of their goals from the front of the net.

While there is nothing to confirm this, Vigneault may be looking to change up the lineup following the loss. The only reserve forward is James Sheppard, and he could make an appearance in the game tonight, likely slotting in on the fourth line. Sheppard was one of San Jose’s best players in the playoffs last season, and playing him tonight could help energize the fourth line and give them a better scorer that Tanner Glass.

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James Sheppard was one of the Sharks’ best players in the postseason last year, and could provide a spark in the lineup if he plays tonight. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

 

Kevin Klein traveled with the team to Pittsburgh, but because there was no practice yesterday, he will remain out of the lineup. This lingering arm issue is becoming a bit of a concern, but hopefully he is back in time for Game 4. The Rangers could really use him on the penalty kill and let him pick up some of the tougher minutes alongside Marc Staal.

The Penguins may be getting some guys back in the lineup, with the returns of Christian Ehrhoff and Derrick Pouliot looming. That would bolster their defense for sure, and give them some more quality guys on the back end.

Marc-Andre Fleury has been really good this series. He’s made a lot of high quality saves to keep the Penguins ahead, continuing his success from the regular season. His postseason woes appear to be a thing of the past, which isn’t good news for the Rangers.

New York’s worst nightmare came true on Saturday, with Sidney Crosby coming alive. He had scored just one goal in his previous 19 playoff games before finding the back of the net twice in Game 2. Crosby was much more effective, and will have a lot more confidence playing in front of his home crowd. Alain Vigneault needs to do a better job of matching up his defensive lines against Crosby, not putting Kevin Hayes on the ice against him. They need to make him defend, keep him out of the offensive game, and shut him down that way.

Henrik Lundqvist is back in net tonight for the Rangers. Henrik allowed four goals on 22 shots, but a few of them were on rebounds, and all four were within five feet of the net. The Rangers defense needs to step up in front of him, get Penguins out of the crease, and not allow any open shots.

Rick Nash scored a late goal in Saturday’s game, which seemed meaningless since it came with less than six seconds remaining. But it was actually a really important goal for Nash himself. Getting that first goal of the playoffs out of the way relieves some of that pressure, hopefully allowing him to settle in and play his game. The Rangers really need their number one goal scorer to come alive in this game and be that goal scorer.

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The Rangers will look to Rick Nash to be their elite goal scorer tonight in a crucial Game 3 in Pittsburgh. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

 

Derick Brassard has been the Rangers’ best player in the first two games. Scoring a goal in each game, Brassard continues to be the most clutch playoff performer for the Blueshirts since 2013. His line, with Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello, certainly has a lot of potential to score, and Brass has been doing everything he can to jumpstart the offense. He’ll be a very important player again tonight.

The power play needs to be better. Instead of being a threat to score and a source of momentum for the Rangers, it winds up being two minutes of passing and a source of momentum for the Penguins after they kill it off. New York was 1-7 on the man advantage on Saturday, failing to capitalize on a prime opportunities and increase a lead over Pittsburgh.

Alain Vigneault needs to have his squad keep it simple, and just keep shooting instead of constantly cycling the puck. That is how they scored their only power play goal in Game 2, with seven shots on goal in less than two minutes and Derick Brassard cashing in on a rebound.

The Rangers and the Penguins will face off at the CONSOL Energy Arena at 7 PM. The game will be broadcasted on MSG Network.

EXPECTED LINES

Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-JT Miller

Carl Hagelin-Kevin Hayes-Martin St. Louis

James Sheppard-Dominic Moore-Jesper Fast

Keith Yandle-Ryan McDonagh

Marc Staal-Dan Girardi

Matt Hunwick-Dan Boyle

Henrik Lundqvist

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Posted on April 20, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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