NEW YORK — The Rangers have been here before.
In the first round against Montreal, they trailed 2-1 entering Game 4 at Madison Square Garden. They won that game and closed out the series in six.
Now in the second round against the Ottawa Senators, the Rangers once again are trailing 2-1 and looking to tie their series at home (7:30 p.m., NBCSN).
“We were in the same position when we played Montreal. We came out on the right end of that,” defenceman Brendan Smith said. “Obviously it was a different way we were down 2-1. Going into Game 4 it’s basically the same situation. We’ve been here before and we have to have a big game.”
The Rangers are coming off a 4-1 victory in Game 3 on Tuesday. They got off to a fast start paced by Mats Zuccarello’s goal 5 1/2 minutes into the game.
“He’s got a skillset, but his best skillset is his competitive nature,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said of his forward who led the team with 59 points in the regular season. “He’s a real competitive kid. He wants to be out there, he wants to be a difference maker. He’s one of our top players.”
The Senators were disappointed in their start to Game 3 as they allowed the first two goals and were outshot 15-5 in the opening period.
“We were just not there, period,” Senators coach Guy Boucher said. “And they were; they were outstanding.”
Ottawa forward Bobby Ryan, who left in the third period with a lower-body injury, is expected to play. There was no update on Zack Smith, who missed the final two periods with an upper-body injury. Also defenceman Chris Wideman and forward Tom Pyatt could return to the lineup.
“They were winning puck battles, they were first on pucks, they were blocking shots, they were doing all the right things to win the game,” Senators forward Alex Burrows said of the Rangers. “We’ve got to match their intensity tomorrow night if we want to go home with a 3-1 lead.”
The Senators expect the same effort from the Rangers going into Game 4.
“We have to start the same time as them, that’s it,” Boucher said. “Or else we have no chance. We have to have the urgency, the battle level that we normally have, and we’ve got to match theirs. They’ll most probably display the exact same urgency as they did last game.”
Tanner Glass returned to the lineup in Game 3 and assisted on Oscar Lindberg’s goal late in the second period for New York.
“I bring a little bit of an edge,” Glass said. “You’ve got to keep you head up out there. I think the guys like that. I’m just trying to play hard and bring that element.”
And after earlier struggles at home, the Rangers have won three in a row at MSG in the playoffs.
“We’ve just got to understand the situation that we’re in, we’re still down 2-1, we’re playing a game in our own building,” Rangers defenceman and captain Ryan McDonagh said. “We want to make sure we set the tone, just go out there and make plays and try to be a hard team to play against.”
The Rangers know a dominating effort in Game 3 doesn’t guarantee anything going into Game 4.
“Momentum shifts from period to period, shift to shift, game to game,” Vigneault said.
“That game yesterday is behind us. The most important game we have right now is the one that’s in front of us tomorrow.”