Here they are again, staring down the barrel of elimination -- one bad goal or one bad shift or one bad something from goinghome for the summer.
Elimination games are tense. This isn't anything new. For the Rangers, though, they're not only tense, they're common. And, perhaps most intriguingly, they're often successful.
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"We're going to have to play our best game of the year," coach Alain Vigneault said. "Our intentions are to continue to play . . . I have a lot of faith and trust in my players. They know how to prepare."
They've prepared a lot, after all. This will be the fourth elimination game for the Rangers this postseason, courtesy mostly of that 3-1 deficit they overcame against the Capitals in the second round.
They played in six elimination games last year and lost only one, to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.
"I don't think we have much of a choice" at being good at them, Derek Stepan said. "It's a race to four. It doesn't matter how many games the other team wins. We have to beat them to four games. We have to go into their building and get it done."
That, Marc Staal said, entails walking in with confidence. It naturally means playing the best possible game. It means avoiding the inertness that plagued them Sunday night.
"Everyone believes in here that we can do it," he said. "We just have to go down there, step up, give our best effort and try to get one."
And then the one after that.
Ryan McDonagh ticked off his mental list, and it's all the usual stuff: They'll have to get more looks, they can't spend so much time in their zone and they have to break the Lightning's pressure.
In short, Henrik Lundqvist said, they have to do everything.
But that's the nature of elimination games, isn't it?
"We just have to go out there and leave everything out there and see how far it takes us," he said. "It's not like we haven't been there before."