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Rangers want to improve upon their Game 2 performances

Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh takes a shot during

Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh takes a shot during practice at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, May 17, 2015. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

In their storied history, the deuces have rarely been wild for the Rangers, especially at home.

Deuces, as in Game 2s in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

In the last round against the Capitals, the Rangers won Game 2 at Madison Square Garden, 3-2, but it was only the second time since 1994 that the Blueshirts won a Game 2 in New York. Since the 1994 Stanley Cup Final, the Rangers have played 25 series: They are 10-15 in Game 2s, but nine of those wins have come on the road.

The Rangers, who edged the Lightning, 2-1, in Game 1 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals Saturday, have been up 2-0 in a playoff series only once since 1994, when they raced out to leads against the Islanders and Washington. Last season, they built a 2-0 series lead against the Canadiens, winning both games in Montreal.

Naturally, all playoff games have magnified importance, and times and teams change, but against the Lightning -- which had an NHL-best 38 wins at home during the season -- going to Tampa 1-1 rather than 2-0 could be a big problem for the Rangers.

"At this stage of the season, when you're down to four teams, all teams can win at home and on the road, I believe," coach Alain Vigneault said. "So we're going to focus on [Monday night] and we know it's going to be a really tough game."

The Lightning is 4-3 in Amalie Arena and 4-3 on the road during this year's playoffs, but the Rangers have to be prepared for a different approach from the visitors Monday night.

"It's a huge opportunity to get a second win at home," Rick Nash said after practice Sunday. "When you have home ice, you've got to take advantage of situations like this. We can't have an OK effort. We're going to see their best."

Nash and captain Ryan McDonagh stressed that the Rangers want to stay out of the penalty box because of Tampa Bay's hot power play, which scored seven times against Montreal and was 1-for-4 in Game 1.

"Any time you lose, you want to come back with a good effort and win a game, so we understand that they're going be better in their structure," McDonagh said. "That means we're going to have to be that much stronger in our structure. We understand that for sure; we have to have that compete level we had in Game 1."

Without a doubt, Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper wants a different gear from his squad. "We were just handing them tickets to the movie, wheeling the turnstile and watching them go by," he said Sunday. "We have to possess the puck more. If we're not going to do that, it's going to be a long night and a short series."

Notes & quotes: The Rangers have won 10 of the last 11 series in which they have had home-ice advantage . . . Tanner Glass didn't practice, but he is expected to play Monday night, Vigneault said . . . Anton Stralman repeated his belief that salary-cap issues didn't prevent him from returning to New York. "Honestly, all I wanted was to come back. I think just they wanted to move in a different direction, and that's fine with me," he said. "The only disappointment that I had was they should have told me. I think when a player puts in heart and soul for a team, if they don't want to keep you, you should have the respect to tell the player. We see that with numerous negotiations to do with the Rangers. It's not been happening nicely. It's a really, really professional organization. I think it's unfortunate." . . . There's no change in the status of Mats Zuccarello, who hasn't skated since being struck in the head by a shot during Game 5 of the Pittsburgh series.

New York Sports