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Rangers have to ‘figure out something’ to regain control of Eastern Final

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Now they have to avoid feeling like their promising Stanley Cup Playoff run is falling apart following a 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 at Amalie Arena on Tuesday, their second straight defeat after winning Games 1 and 2 at home.

“Have to figure out something,” forward Artemi Panarin said. “We have to probably build everything better.”

Game 5 of the best-of-7 series will be on Thursday at Madison Square Garden, where New York has won eight straight.

“I don’t think we expected to walk in here and blow the doors off the thing,” defenseman Jacob Trouba said. “This is competitive hockey.”

Nevertheless, it’s a much different feeling for the Rangers now than when they arrived here on Saturday afternoon leading 2-0 in the series after scoring nine goals, including eight at even strength, on Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy in Games 1 and 2.

They were brimming with confidence, full of energy and hope. Their goalie, Igor Shesterkin, was playing better than Vasilevskiy.

Then in Game 3 on Sunday, they had the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions on the rope, having built a 2-0 lead midway through the second period with two power-play goals in a 2:07 span.

Four-and-a-half periods later, the series is tied and the Lightning look like they’re just warming up while the Rangers are trying to figure out how to score another even-strength goal against Vasilevskiy (all three goals in Games 3 and 4 came on the power play).

“It wasn’t second and third chance opportunities in the first two home games, it was moving the puck east to west across the ice, getting the puck off your stick in less than a half a second,” forward Chris Kreider said. “I don’t care who is in net, every goalie in the world struggles with a puck that goes east-west, has to battle through traffic and then is immediately released on net. They can’t get set. That’s what gives us our best chance, and I think to a guy we probably all could say we received a pass like that tonight and got it, picked our head up, tried to pick a spot as opposed to getting it off quick.”

[RELATED: Complete Rangers vs. Lightning series coverage]

It didn’t help the Rangers that center Ryan Strome did not play in Game 4 after skating in warmups, taking line rushes in his usual spot between Panarin and Andrew Copp.

Strome, who also plays on the Rangers’ top power-play unit, sustained a lower-body injury in the second period of Game 2 and did not play in the third period of the 3-2 loss in Game 3.

New York coach Gerard Gallant said he expected Strome to play in Game 4, but he wasn’t 100 percent certain. Now, he’s not sure if he’ll play in Game 5.

“You don’t make excuses because that’s playoff hockey, but we definitely missed Strome tonight,” Gallant said. “He’s day to day. Hopefully he’ll be able to go Thursday.”

To make matters worse, Filip Chytil sustained an upper-body injury in the second period of Game 4 and didn’t return for the start of the third.

Chytil, the Rangers’ third-line center, had originally replaced Strome on the top power-play unit.

“He should be fine, but we’ll have to wait and see,” Gallant said.

On top of that, it’s clear that Barclay Goodrow, their fourth-line center, is playing injured after blocking a shot with his left foot in the third period of Game 3. It’s the same foot that caused Goodrow to miss 11 games after he injured it in Game 1 of the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“It’s not something we’re looking at or thinking about too hard,” Trouba said. “Do we miss them? Yeah. Do we hope they come back? Yeah. But you’ve got to be able to play without them.”

That’s part of why the Rangers’ current predicament feels way different than it did through four games against the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round.

That series was also tied 2-2, with each team winning both of its home games.

However, the Rangers won Games 3 and 4 against the Hurricanes and were getting healthier. Goodrow came back in Game 6, and no one else was injured. They felt just like they did after Games 1 and 2 against the Lightning.

It might not have manifested itself in Game 5, a 3-1 loss, but it did in Games 6 and 7.

In this series, though, they’ve lost two in a row and they’re hurting, uncertain about their lineup with potentially two centers out and a third one compromised.

“It’s not easy, but we can’t be sad,” Panarin said. “For sure it’s not going to help us. Try to be positive. We have to be positive. We’ve been in a worse spot before, so we’re OK. I hope we do well in the Garden. Our fans, nice to see again. Try to do something more.”

Source : NHL News

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news7.asia Rangers have to ‘figure out something’ to regain control of Eastern Final