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Rangers, Habs gear up for pivotal Game 5

20 April 2017, 05:57 | Myron Mathis

Jeanine Leech Icon Sportswire

Pittsburgh Penguins Center Evgeni Malkin and Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Kyle Quincey shake hands after game. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 5-2 in Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs agains

He craves these moments, when the intensity ramps up, the lights shine brighter and more eyeballs are on him, and he has taken his game to its highest level through four games of this first-round series against Montreal, which after Tuesday's bounce-back Rangers win heads to Montreal for Thursday's Game 5.

The Rangers window is closing, with key players including Henrik Lundqvist and Rick Nash getting older. "It doesn't matter if it's Game 1 or Game 7, you still get those jitters, (that) playoff excitement and adrenaline running through you".

I don't think it's personnel driven, as for Games 3 and 4 the Habs have dressed what is in my estimation the best lineup possible. Nash took a goalie interference penalty and that was about it.

Pacioretty has been held down so far this series with just one point in the four games, but he has had 19 shots.

The Canadiens and Rangers have both split two games on home ice, with the latter ending a two-game series skid with a 2-1 victory Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. "We're here to protect each other as well". He was going hard to the net. "End of the season coming into the playoffs, these four games, I think we've been contributing some forechecks and getting their "D" to make some mistakes and get some offensive time". "That's all I can say". The veteran left-winger has a history of slow starts in the playoffs.

He wasn't made available to the media on Wednesday, but Julien leapt to his captain's defence.

"I think he puts a lot of pressure on himself because he wants the team to win and he wants to be part of the reason for that", winger Paul Byron said.

"He's still playing good hockey".

"That's how I handle things".

Pacioretty said Game 4 wasn't his best and he needs to be better. Because a team's zone play is independent from (but certainly correlated to) their shot differentials, transitional data also provides a richer picture of how teams play their way to good or bad Corsi, Fenwick or Expected Goals numbers.

Most likely, there is either something tactical that NY has discovered to work well against a possession-intensive team like Montreal, or a specific detail which the Habs have a harder time executing because of the long change in the second period. First-line players Kreider and Derek Stepan have yet to score.

Blue Jackets 5, Penguins 4: Markus Nutivaara, William Karlsson and Boone Jenner each had a goal and an assist and Columbus avoided a sweep in the best-of-seven playoff series.

Note: Montreal defenceman Alexei Emelin is moving closer to a return after missing four with an undisclosed injury. NY has been at their best when they can keep the already anemic Montreal offense in check as evidenced by their 2-0 victory in game four and while they know it is going to be a tough out to get a win on the road in such a pivotal game they have come up with some big time efforts away from home and this one certainly fits the bill as well.

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