Rangers hope to get back their game to avoid elimination: 'Our backs are obviously against the wall'

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Ryan Strome fending off Penguins defender
Ryan Strome fending off Penguins defender

After an outstanding regular season, the Rangers now find themselves one loss away from elimination, trailing the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 in their first-round playoff series.

The Rangers were dominated by the Penguins in Monday’s Game 4, falling 7-2 as Pittsburgh lit the lamp five times in the second period.

Game 5 brings the series back to the Big Apple, and the Rangers are hopeful being back home can help inject some life back into the club.

“Our backs are obviously against the wall right now,” Adam Fox said following Tuesday’s practice. “I think we’ve just got to come out and play hard. Obviously, coming back home is going to hopefully give us a little spark. I think we’ve just got to give it our all. Down 3-1 you don’t have much left to lose. Just leave it all out there and let the result take care of itself.”

“I think we’ve been resilient all year," added Ryan Strome. “A lot of confidence in our team. Got a big game on home ice tomorrow. Not where we wanted to be, but I think our team is a confident group and with home ice I think it should be a really fun game tomorrow.”

Head coach Gerard Gallant and his staff ran a shorter practice on Tuesday, and the message was simple: In order to climb back into the series, the Rangers need to do what they do best, playing a north-south style of hockey rather than trying to get too fancy with the puck.

“Get back to our work ethic. Get back to our straight up-and-down game,” Gallant said on Tuesday. “We had a great regular season, second-best in the league in goals against average, and get back to that. We can’t give up seven goals and expect to win.”

Gallant was also asked if the Rangers have been getting enough shots on Louis Domingue, who has taken over Pittsburgh's netminder duties following an injury to Casey DeSmith, to which the head coach replied that the number of shots has been “not even close” to what they need to do.

“We talk about putting pucks to the net and we’ve shown some good goal scoring that we do around the net, and then we try to get cute and fancy,” Gallant said. “Like I said, it’s a straight, direct hockey game. Keep it going to the net, keep people at the net, and we’re trying to do other stuff.

“It was just a terrible game. In terms of fixing it, I think the answer for us has always just been from within,” said Strome. “All year, we’ve just tried to emphasize playing our game, and last night we didn’t do any of our game. So, I think the answer’s pretty simple. We’ve done it all year. We’ve got to play 60 good minutes, we’ve got to keep the game simple, we’ve got to play hard, and it’s the things that we can control.

“Today is a new day and tomorrow is definitely a new day and it will be exciting to get out in front of our fans, and when you have a game like that you just want to play as quick as possible.”