On the eve of Game 5 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, the Rangers didn't acknowledge feeling any extra pressure as the No. 1 seed.
"The bottom line is, it's 2-2," Henrik Lundqvist said after practice at Madison Square Garden, where his Rangers will face the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night. "Both teams have the same amount of pressure. We're determined to win this."
Senators coach Paul MacLean, however, thinks the onus is on the Rangers to take control of the best-of-seven series. "I think for sure," MacLean said. "They're the second-highest point total team , the best team in the East."
The Senators, who will host Game 6, finished eighth with 92.
"Your best players have to be at their best, especially at this time of the year," Rangers captain Ryan Callahan said. "You're going to have other guys step up and score, like [Brian] Boyle has and [Anton] Stralman. But for us to win the series, we have to have our top guys going."
Said Richards: "Obviously, we just need to score more goals. It's 2-2 and we lose in overtime [in Game 4]. We want to make big plays."
In a short briefing, coach John Tortorella added: "Our top guys, just like everybody, want to be our top guys."
During practice, Gaborik and Richards were separated. They had excelled down the stretch with speedy rookie Carl Hagelin, but he will serve the final game of his three-game suspension for a high hit on Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson.
Richards skated between Brandon Dubinsky and Callahan; Gaborik was on the right of Derek Stepan and Artem Anisimov, a combination that had success during the season. The other trios: Ruslan Fedotenko-Boyle-Brandon Prust and Chris Kreider-John Mitchell-Mike Rupp.
Players said they can look at how they have rebounded after tough defeats. "We're not a team that gets too high or too low," defenseman Michael Del Zotto said. "We've done a good job responding, and we're looking to do the same thing.''
The Rangers, who were 21-3-3 when leading after the first period, have surrendered two leads in the third period. Asked how important the first 10 minutes will be Saturday night, Tortorella said: "Just as important as the last 50."
"I think momentum is more in-game," defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "They feel good about themselves after an overtime win, and they should . . . but I think a day off in between kind of settles everyone down. I'd say we are really focused and we remain confident."
Notes & quotes: In the playoffs, the Rangers are 111-84-2 at home but 23-31 in Game 5s . . . Alfredsson (concussion) and Jesse Winchester (upper body) did not come to New York with the Senators. Mark Stone, a high-scoring forward in juniors with the Brandon Wheat Kings, did. Stone, Rob Klinkhammer, Kaspars Daugavins and Mike Hoffman are potential replacements.