NY Rangers at Ottawa
When: 3:00 PM
ET, Saturday, April 29, 2017
Where: Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, Ontario
Coach Guy Boucher has been trumpeting his team in the role of underdog in advance of its postseason series against the New York Rangers, but the play of the Ottawa Senators may force him to adopt a different tactic. The Senators look to hold serve at home and take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals series in Saturday's Game 2 against New York.
Star defenseman Erik Karlsson's goal from a near-impossible angle was the difference in Ottawa's 2-1 victory in the series opener -- the Senators' seventh one-goal decision in as many playoff games. "The players didn’t want to get swept in four,” Boucher said while rattling off a checklist of the ominous challenges presented by New York. “We expect them to bounce back with a game that’s even better, so we know how tough it’s going to be.” The possibility of falling into a 2-0 series deficit is not weighing too heavily on the Rangers, who owned the league's best road record with 27 wins and roared back to take the final three games in the first round. “I think we just have to forget about this,” ex-Ottawa center Mika Zibanejad said. “We were down in the Montreal series, as well, 2-1. It’s 1-0. A lot of hockey left to play.”
TV: 3 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, TVAS
ABOUT THE RANGERS: New York needs to focus on a better start in Game 2 after Ottawa forced netminder Henrik Lundqvist to make 21 of his 43 saves in the first 20 minutes -- his highest save total ever for one period in the postseason. “Obviously we want to play fast, but we can’t rush it up with one guy trying to break through, give it away and have them come back and shove it up our (butt),” forward Mats Zuccarello told the New York Post. “It’s important for us to be patient with the puck against their trap." Leading goal scorer Chris Kreider remains stuck on one assist through seven playoff games.
ABOUT THE SENATORS: Karlsson missed five games down the stretch because of a pair of stress fractures in his heel, but he once again delivered with his first goal of this postseason to go along with his six assists, leaving Boucher grasping for superlatives. "I think our fans have to appreciate what we have here," Boucher marveled. "It's more than a star right now. That's what I think is unbelievable. He's a skilled player that became a star and now he's a winner." That also applies to goaltender Craig Anderson, who has won his last four against New York with a staggering .984 save percentage.
1. Ex-Ranger F Derick Brassard had a five-game point streak halted Thursday but tied Karlsson with a game-high five shots on goal.
2. Kreider's seven-game goal drought is the longest of his career in one postseason. He has 20 goals in 72 playoff contests.
3. Senators F Tom Pyatt (upper body), out the past three games, is ready to return but Boucher said he likely will stick with the same lineup.
PREDICTION: Rangers 3, Senators 1
Stats and Records