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Rangers bring series to MSG for Game 3; McDonagh a maybe for tonight

Bobby Bevilacqua

Rangers vs Penguins Game 2 4-16

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

After splitting the first two games of the series, the Rangers are back on home ice for the first time in the playoffs, looking to pull ahead of the Penguins in Game Three.

The first two games of the series were played in an electric atmosphere at the CONSOL Energy Center. They finally solved Jeff Zatkoff, scoring four goals in 8:01 and skating away with a 4-2 win and tying the series at one game apiece.

But now, the Rangers are back at Madison Square Garden, where they took advantage of home ice and posted a record of 27-10-4 in the regular season. Despite that, Pittsburgh has won 15 of the last 24 games they’ve played at MSG, regular season and playoffs included. It’ll take another complete effort from New York tonight if they want a win.

Alain Vigneault’s squad played a much more complete game on Saturday, doing an excellent job of being physical and neutralizing the speed of the Penguins. The Rangers recorded 57 hits and have 107 already in the series. The Penguins sometimes struggle to respond against physicality, and it effected them in Game Two. On top of that, the big players on the Rangers stepped up, including Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello and Henrik Lundqvist.

We won’t know what the lineups will look like until each team takes warmups. So it’s still a question mark whether Marc-Andre Fleury will play or not. He has missed the last eight games with a concussion but has practiced with the team for more than a week. If he can’t play, Jeff Zatkoff will be right back in the crease. After a stellar Game One, Zatkoff allowed four goals on 28 shots on Saturday. He still made some decent stops and could potentially be tough if he returns to his Game One form.

Evgeni Malkin re-entered the Penguins lineup on Saturday, and he had some fantastic shifts and some great chances. He was centering Bryan Rust and Eric Fehr on the wings, but Mike Sullivan could put him on the wing with Sidney Crosby in an attempt to spark both players and stack the offense. Either way, he’s a dangerous player, capable of singlehandedly taking over a game.

Nick Bonino has totaled three assists in the two playoff games, mainly centering Phil Kessel and Carl Hagelin. That line was dangerous down the stretch of the season and have not reached their full potential yet. Bonino plays a north-south style of game, which meshes will with a lot of the Penguin players. Watch out for him.

Henrik Lundqvist played very well on Saturday, not missing a beat after getting hit in the eye with Marc Staal’s stick. He made 29 saves and looked like his usual self, which was very encouraging. Lundqvist will need to be the team’s best player and he’ll have to continue to stonewall guys like Crosby and Malkin.

Rick Nash now has two assists in the first two games of the playoffs after a scoring change yesterday. He’s been a very effective through the two games, driving offense and possession while also playing phenomenal defense. But he’s going to need to be more offensive and start scoring more. Nash is a three time 40 goal scorer with over 400 career goals, and the Rangers have to be able to lean on him for goal scoring.

JT Miller had a fantastic game on Saturday, tallying three assists and creating scoring chances all over the ice. Miller was the main catalyst for the Rangers, creating the three goals in the second period. Miller proved last year that he can be leaned on in the playoffs, and he’s aiming to do that again this season after finishing with his first 20 goal season. Miller will skate with Brassard and Nash and look to set off the red light at the Garden tonight.

Ryan McDonagh practiced with the team this morning, skating in a full contact jersey and playing with no limitations. Vigneault said that he’s “a little higher” on the possibility of getting his captain back than he was on Monday. McDonagh will be evaluated by a doctor today and a decision will be made on him later in the day.

The Rangers and the Penguins will faceoff at Madison Square Garden at 7 PM. The game will be broadcasted on MSG Network.

Potential Lineup (Not Confirmed)

Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-JT Miller

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello

Eric Staal-Kevin Hayes-Jesper Fast

Tanner Glass-Dominic Moore-Viktor Stalberg

Ryan McDonagh-Brady Skjei

Marc Staal-Dan Boyle

Keith Yandle-Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

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Posted on April 19, 2016, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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