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Rangers Force Elimination Game 7 With 3-2 Win

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OTTAWA, CANADA - APRIL 23:  Chris Kreider #20 of the New York Rangers skates with the puck while being chased by Zenon Konopka #28 of the Ottawa Senators in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Scotiabank Place on April 23, 2012 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  The Rangers defeated the Senators 3-2.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

OTTAWA, CANADA – APRIL 23: Chris Kreider #20 of the New York Rangers skates with the puck while being chased by Zenon Konopka #28 of the Ottawa Senators in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Scotiabank Place on April 23, 2012 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The Rangers defeated the Senators 3-2. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

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OTTAWA (AP) _ Brad Richards scored the go-ahead goal and Derek
Stepan had a goal and two assists as the top-seeded New York
Rangers staved off elimination with a 3-2 victory against Ottawa
Senators on Monday night.

The series heads back to New York Thursday night for the first
Game 7 in any sport at Madison Square Garden in 17 years.

Not even the return of Daniel Alfredsson, who missed three games
with a concussion, in front of the fired-up home crowd at
Scotiabank Place could help the eighth-seeded Senators complete the
upset.

Carl Hagelin returned to the Rangers lineup after sitting out a
three-game suspension for his elbow on Alfredsson.

The Rangers broke through in the second with three goals after
going six straight periods without scoring.

Chris Neil gave Ottawa a 1-0 lead in the first with a power-play
goal and Jason Spezza cut it to 3-2 with 39 seconds left to play in
the third.

Neil was planted at the edge of Henrik Lundqvist’s crease along
with teammate Zack Smith when Ottawa’s power play put it ahead 1-0
at 7:05. Sergei Gonchar’s point shot deflected in off Neil’s skate
as he tried to jump out of the way.

That got the frenzied towel-waving crowd into a lather that only
increased when Neil answered Brandon Prust’s challenge for a fight
eight minutes later.

The momentum seemed to be completely in Ottawa’s favor when the
first intermission hit, especially with goalie Craig Anderson
locked into a lengthy shutout streak and looking sharp once again.

But the Senators lost their focus in the second period and
referees Steve Kozari and Tim Peel gave the Rangers four power
plays.

Stepan tied the game 1-1 during the first one at 8:55, taking
two whacks at a sweet pass from Richards to beat Anderson. That
ended the Rangers scoring drought at 145 minutes, 27 seconds.

A call that Ottawa fans will question helped put New York ahead
for good.

New York received a lengthy 5-on-3 after Nick Foligno was sent
off for goaltender interference _ replays showed two Rangers
players guiding him into Lundqvist _ and Richards took advantage of
the extra space by skating off the wall and beating Anderson high
at 17:08.

That was soon followed by a back-breaking goal from Kreider, the
first of his NHL career. He sneaked a shot through Anderson with
40.3 seconds to play in the period to make it 3-1.

Ottawa successfully staged a number of dramatic comebacks during
the regular season _ they also erased a two-goal deficit while
winning Game 4 _ and had plenty of opportunities to mount another
one here. But Lundqvist held the Senators at bay on two power
plays, denying Kyle Turris point blank and having a Chris Phillips
shot ring off the post.

The Sens managed to squeeze one puck over the goal-line in the
final minute, with Spezza getting credit at 19:21 after a long
video review.

The last Game 7 at the Garden was in the NBA. The Knicks lost
97-95 to Reggie Miller and the Indians Pacers in the 1995 Eastern
Conference semifinals. The last time the Rangers hosted a Game 7
was 1994, when they beat Vancouver to win their first Stanley Cup
in 54 years.

After six games, there has been very little to choose between
teams that were separated by 10 wins and 17 points through the
regular season. But the Senators have one more chance to pull off
the upset, needing only one more victory at Madison Square Garden,
where they are a combined 4-1 this year.

NOTES: Turris briefly left the game in the first period after a
blocking a shot, but returned … Swedish forward Jakob Silfverberg
made his NHL debut for the Senators … Boyle didn’t make the trip
after suffering a concussion on the hit from Neil in Game 5 … Two
of Alfredsson’s sons, Loui and Hugo, were on the ice with Sens
flags when the team came out at the start of the game … Former
Senators Igor Kravchuk and Shaun Van Allen were among the announced
crowd of 20,500.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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