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Rangers know they can take nothing for granted in this series

Keith Yandle #93 of the New York Rangers

Keith Yandle #93 of the New York Rangers celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal against Ben Bishop #30 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 22, 2015 in Tampa, Fla. Credit: Getty Images / Bruce Bennett

Bounce-backs aren't often scripted, they're earned.

Henrik Lundqvist put up a wall in the second period in Tampa on Friday night and the Rangers continued their power-play proficiency, but they caught some breaks in a 5-1 victory that tied the Eastern Conference finals at two games apiece. Game 5 is Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.

Still, in a results business, that's what counts when teams are a couple of wins from the Stanley Cup Final:

Going home with a road victory in the pocket.

Optimists will point to the Rangers' 6-2 record in their last eight playoff series that were tied after Game 4, dating to the Eastern Conference finals against the Devils in 1994.

Sure, the Rangers now have home ice in two of the next three games, if necessary. But they are taking nothing for granted in what has been an unpredictable series, as coach Alain Vigneault summed up Saturday before the team flew back to New York.

"Every game has been different," he said. "First game was tight-checking. Second game, special-team units took over. Third game, it was back and forth where there's tons of open ice and both teams are scoring and it's overtime.

"[On Friday], from our standpoint, we had a really solid first period. They got momentum in the second and some looks, and our goaltender stood tall. In the third, we were able to get them out of reach with a couple of big power-play goals. At this time of the year, it's about finding ways to win, and that's what we're trying to do."

Martin St. Louis, who ended his playoff scoring drought with the fourth Rangers goal Friday night, believes the Blueshirts are sorting things out.

"We know, I think in general, what works, what doesn't, what gets us in trouble, what doesn't get us in trouble," he said Saturday. "As the series goes on, you try to work your way through that. But every game is a new game. The stuff that might work in Game 3 might not work in Game 4, and it comes down to making good reads sometimes and looking sharper at other times."

On the negative side of the Rangers' ledger, there certainly were more than the 12 giveaways recorded by the official stats, and the Blueshirts blocked only nine shots.

The Lightning is confident in its offense, and should be, despite scoring only once against Lundqvist in Game 4. The issue now might be goaltender Ben Bishop, who looked mortal in the two home games of his third-ever playoff series, allowing 10 goals on only 52 shots.

Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper put much of the blame on his defense and backed Bishop, calling a question about possibly switching goalies "preposterous."

"Much like probably the Rangers were getting a little maligned for giving up back-to-back sixes, well, we've given up back-to-back fives," Cooper said. "We can sit here and say all we want and pat ourselves on the back and say we had chances to score. Well, moral victories don't get you this far, and we're giving up too many goals.

"You can't continue to sit here and say we need to score six every night to win. We need to score three to win, and that's what we have to get back to. So we've got to look after our net a little bit better."

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