Rangers want to end series at Garden, avoid return to Montreal

The Rangers celebrate after scoring a goal late The Rangers celebrate after scoring a goal late in the second period during Game 4 at Madison Square Garden on May 25, 2014. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Elsa

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With its cathedrals, cobblestone streets, sidewalk bistros and nightlife, players consider Montreal one of the finest stops on the NHL schedule.

But the Rangers would gladly trade their passports and visas for a handshake line and the Prince of Wales Trophy at Madison Square Garden Thursday night rather than visit Montreal again this weekend.

Another flight to Canada and a third Game 7 in these playoffs, which have already lasted 19 games -- nearly one quarter of a season -- would be far from ideal, especially after letting a 3-1 edge in games slip to 3-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals.

"You don't want to go back to a Game 7 where anything can happen," center Brad Richards said. "We want to get this done, and we did last night, too. We had already won two in a row in that building [Bell Centre], and they're a good team in that building. They're a good team anywhere. They got one on us, and that's just the way it goes. But we're going to have to be a lot better, and we will be."

At home this postseason, the Rangers are 5-4, with three wins against the Flyers in the first round, so nothing is a given.

"It's been kind of a struggle for us to get that deciding game," defenseman Dan Girardi said. "You go back to Game 6 in Philly [a 5-2 loss] and we had a chance to do that, too, couldn't get that done." But the Rangers did oust the Flyers with a 2-1 win at the Garden in Game 7.

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After some terrific defensive structure in the playoffs, Richards said, "We lost our composure in all areas of the game [Tuesday night]. I don't see many of those games in the playoffs. We were just cheating and hoping, and some of it was a product of being down 4-1. But even as we were getting momentum there, we were still doing it and playing with fire."

Henrik Lundqvist, the backbone of the team that hasn't gone to the Stanley Cup Final since 1994, will surely have to be sharper. He surrendered four goals on 19 shots before being pulled for Cam Talbot with 11:02 remaining in the second period. "I was a little slow," Lundqvist admitted after the game.

"I think you guys all see how competitive he is, and that's not going to sit well," Richards said. "I would imagine we're going to see one of his better performances, especially going back to his crowd and wanting to rebound from that. It's not something we'll have to worry about. We always know he'll regroup."

Recent history is in his favor. Lundqvist is 5-2 with a .930 save percentage in games after a loss this postseason.

Asked if he needs to offer any words of encouragement or support to Lundqvist, who has 11 wins, a 2.15 GAA and a .926 save percentage, coach Alain Vigneault said:

"Henrik doesn't need to hear anything from me. He's a veteran player, one of the best in his era, and I'm sure he's going to be focused and ready."

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