OTTAWA â€” Both the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators are happy to have an extra day off between games, but for different reasons.
The Senators hold a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal as it heads to New York City for Game 3 on Tuesday. Ottawa took control of the series Saturday afternoon with a 6-5 come-from-behind double-overtime victory that stunned the Rangers.
“I think this extra day off between games is going to be beneficial for us,” said Rangers coach Alain Vigneault. “Nearly the same situation happened in Game 2 in Montreal and we didn’t respond real well at home in Game 3.”
Vigneault didn’t want to get into specifics, but feels there are definitely some areas where his team can improve.
“I mean there’s no doubt that was a tough loss considering the way we played, but having this extra 24 hours to consume it and being able to take the time to adjust in a couple areas I think is going to be beneficial for our group,” said Vigneault.
Despite having control of the series, Ottawa has its own adjustments to make, not to mention players that will benefit from the extra day off.
Clarke MacArthur played just two shifts in the second period on Saturday before leaving the game with an upper body injury. Captain Erik Karlsson left the game briefly in the second period before returning and was able to finish the game, but could definitely use the rest after playing over 37 minutes.
Senators coach Guy Boucher anticipates MacArthur will skate Monday and is hopeful he’ll be ready to play Tuesday. Should Ottawa need to make changes Tom Pyatt would likely get back into the lineup. Defenceman Mark Borowiecki remains doubtful as he recovers from a lower body injury sustained in Game 2 against the Boston Bruins.
Ottawa knows the Rangers will bring their best game Tuesday and will need to match its intensity.
“We know the kind of urgency they’re going to bring to the table for their next game,” said Boucher. “I know they talked about re-loading because they’ve got two days off and figuring out what they need to do to beat us and I think we have to do the same and going back to the drawing board and making sure we’re not surprised by anything they’re going to throw at us.”
The Senators have had success at Madison Square Garden this season, winning both their regular-season games in New York City and feel comfortable playing on the road, but Boucher pays little attention to past records.
“Playoffs is a new day, new situation and we’re going in with the same mindset we had in Boston and the same mindset that’s we’ve got at home,” he said. “Our mindset doesn’t change on the road, we’re home. It’s the exact, exact same thing.”
The Rangers were disappointed with giving up a two-goal lead Saturday, but aside from that feel they’ve played well enough, but admitted they could make some roster changes for Game 3.
“We’re down 2-0, but other than the first period in Ottawa where they got quite a few chances in that first period, a lot of them coming on their power play and our power play giving them a few chances, our last six periods, the last two in Ottawa (Thursday) and the four plus (Saturday), we’ve played some pretty good hockey,” said Vigneault. “We’ve gotten some good looks and been able to limit a pretty skilled team and been able to generate quite a few chances and that’s been with a mixture of veteran players and younger players.”
Vigneault admitted he might need to make adjustments after Jean-Gabriel Pageau led the Senators’ rally on Saturday with two of his four goals on tips in close.
“It is something we are looking at, maybe I’m going to put a checker on their checker because he’s supposed to be their checker and he got four goals,” said Vigneault laughing. “They had a few goals from tips that made it very difficult. It is something that we’re going to see if we can’t come up with a little different strategy there. For them they made the most of their opportunities in (Saturday’s) game.
Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press