John Tortorella, Ruslan Fedotenko

With no lineup changes, Rangers hope a change of scenery can turn things around

Things haven’t gone too well for the Rangers so far in the playoffs. Through two games they’ve scored just one goal and they’ve had major struggles dealing with the Capitals intense defense and shot blocking. While they went with Mats Zuccarello in Game 1 to give them some sort of offensive spark, they abandoned that in Game 2 opting to go with agitator extreme Sean Avery. That move worked out even less as the Rangers were shutout in Game 2.

With Game 3 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC today, the Rangers won’t be making any changes to the lineup meaning that Avery stays in as does Matt Gilroy on defense as opposed to Steve Eminger. Coach John Tortorella is sticking with the group that got them into the playoffs and hoping that playing on home ice in Madison Square Garden will be elixir to what ails them.

One thing that Tortorella is counting on is the team coming out fired up.

“After game one, there was not enough energy, not enough jam. Game 2 was better,” Tortorella said. “I won’t have to talk to the team about energy today.”

Getting that jump on the Capitals would do them a world of good. Getting the first goal and getting the Caps to have to play a little desperate sooner than not. Getting the Caps to loosen up their defense a little bit and turning it into a track meet of sorts might be dangerous to do with all the Caps offensive talent, but it might be the one way the Rangers can loosen things up enough to give them more opportunities to score. After all, the Rangers still have Henrik Lundqvist in goal and that gives them a major advantage should things get wild.

The Rangers might also benefit from trying to rattle Michal Neuvirth. With the rookie goalie playing in his first NHL playoffs, he hasn’t gotten much of a taste of what it’s like to get his cage rattled. The Rangers don’t necessarily have the forwards that play that brand of game but then again, there’s always Sean Avery. Regardless, getting that spark is necessary for the Rangers if they don’t want to be on the brink of being swept in Game 4.

Fights, hits and a blown kiss: Stars and Blues get nasty

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Things were getting out of hand between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues on the scoreboard in an eventual 6-1 Blues win.

They were also getting a little raucous on the ice when it was clear that the Stars weren’t going to stage a comeback.

Jamie Benn was whistled for cross-checking Alex Pietrangelo, but it was Stephen Johns‘ hit from behind on Pietrangelo really revved up the violence.

Watch that hit and then the scrum that ensued in the video above, which included a scary display of an angry Ryan Reaves … who got creative at the end.

You may also want the kiss alone, so here it is:

Memo: rough stuff might not work so well against the Blues.

Read about that blowout here.

Blues bombard Stars, go up 2-1 in series

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Sometimes a final score is misleading. In the case of the St. Louis Blues’ 6-1 thrashing of the Dallas Stars, it might just be the start of the story.

Honestly, the most positive thing the Stars can say is “Well, at least it was just one game.”

It was one ugly game, however, and now the Blues hold a 2-1 series lead with a chance to really take control if they can win Game 4 at home.

The Blues dominated just about every category on Tuesday, firing more shots on goal, enjoying better special teams play and throwing more hits. They even blocked a higher number of shots, which often isn’t the case for the squad that carries play.

This leaves the Stars picking up the pieces, especially when it comes to their work in their own end.

Do you put greater blame on struggling goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi or is this more about the Stars’ lax defensive coverage? The scary answer may be “Both,” and the Stars likely know that they need to find answers quickly.

On the bright side for Dallas, it is just one game … and the Blues were searching for answers of their own after Game 1.

We saw the Blues turn things around with these two straight wins, so now the Stars must show that they can gather themselves and play the attacking, out-score-your-mistakes style that got them here.

Granted, they may have to keep an eye out for supplemental discipline after some rough stuff toward the end of the game.

Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.