The New York Rangers had an opportunity to take a 3-1 series lead Saturday afternoon. They didn't. The Washington Capitals used a late power play goal to push ahead 3-2 in Game 4 and tie the series at two heading back to Madison Square Garden tonight for Game 5.
It's a position both teams are familiar with this postseason, as both teams will look to take a commanding 3-2 series lead. But how commanding would that lead be?
The Rangers were in this position in the first round, and lost 2-0 to the Ottawa Senators. New York rebounded on the road thanks to a game-winning goal by Chris Kreider, and took Game 7 to move on to the second round. And while those victories in Game 6 and 7 showed this team's massive resiliency, it's not a situation the Rangers want to be in again.
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There are some advantages for the Rangers, despite having lost Game 4. For starters, this has become a three-game series with two of those games taking place at Madison Square Garden. Don't underestimate just how important this is, but don't overestimate it either.
It's a comfortable thought, because if the Rangers win either Game 5 or 6 they know they're coming back to New York for Game 7; but it certainly doesn't solidify this series. The Rangers have already lost three times at home this postseason, they're not unbeatable in their own house.
Still, Madison Square Garden is one of -- if not the -- toughest building to play in for opposing teams.
The Rangers will have a lot of positives and negatives to take from their two games in Washington. The positives are the resurrection of Marian Gaborik, the team showing its will and toughness in Game 3 and the fact that the Rangers didn't play great hockey in Game 4 but still came within a questionable penalty of taking that game to overtime. Oh yeah, Henrik Lundqvist has been outstanding, too.
The negatives mostly revolve around the power play and the offense. The Rangers didn't generate too many chances in Game 4, and had a tough time finding shooting lanes. The Capitals have out-blocked the Rangers in this series, which is surprising since the Rangers pride themselves on their defensive game.
Either way, a win in Game 5 would transition the pressure off of the Rangers and back onto the Capitals.