Mats Zuccarello, Benoit Pouliot

PHT Morning Skate: Rangers hope home ice helps in Game 3

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It may not seem like it’s time to call Game 3 a “must-win” game for the New York Rangers, but that’s the situation they’re in tonight at home.

After the Los Angeles Kings fought back in Games 1 and 2 to win in overtime in each game, the Rangers are back at home in Madison Square Garden for the first Stanley Cup Final game there in 20 years. They’ll have the crowd whipped into a fury just because that’s how it goes, and they’ll need that support to make sure they can strike back in a series where they’ve let things slip away.

Game 3: New York Rangers vs. Los Angeles Kings [Los Angeles leads series 2-0] (8:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

The Cup Final has to be frustrating for the Rangers. They’re the only team that’s held a lead in either game, they’ve held multiple two-goal leads (one in Game 1, two in Game 2) and yet they sit down 2-0 in the series.

They may be down, but they’re not far from making this series a lot more interesting. Henrik Lundqvist has played strong, their third line of Benoit Pouliot-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello looked dangerous in Game 2, and the “A” game coach Alain Vigneault said was missing in Game 1 was there on Saturday night.

One thing the Rangers will need to get figured out is stronger play from the blue line. Dan Girardi has struggled and Marc Staal has to a degree as well. Despite the points from Ryan McDonagh and steady play of Anton Stralman, the Kings are still getting a lot of chances.

If the Kings are going to be up 3-0 after tonight it’s going to be because they’ve cut down on the turnovers. So many of the Rangers chances are occurring because L.A. is forking the puck over and no one has been absolved of that. Everyone from Drew Doughty through Anze Kopitar have had blunders. If those get corrected tonight, it could be a tough game for the Rangers.

What to look for: Whether or not Matt Greene stays in the Kings lineup. Greene had a rough Game 2 as he coughed the puck up at inopportune moments and was getting routinely skated by Rangers forwards. His play there might be enough to inspire Darryl Sutter to get Robyn Regehr back in the lineup.

Video: Canucks escape Arizona with another win for the moms

at Pepsi Center on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
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With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.

After beating the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, the Canucks held on for the 2-1 victory in Arizona on Wednesday, despite being without Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), Alex Edler (broken fibula) and Derek Dorsett, who was scratched from the lineup due to illness, as per Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy.

It was only a few days ago, following a home loss to the Calgary Flames, that it felt like the Canucks’ playoff hopes were essentially dashed. They fielded their healthiest lineup in months and couldn’t score and couldn’t win.

Two quick wins later, they’re two points out of a Wild Card spot in the West, despite getting outshot in Arizona.

Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.

Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut

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A day after getting traded out of Toronto, Dion Phaneuf made his Ottawa Senators debut.

It ended with a 3-1 road loss for the Senators, and Phaneuf getting burned by Henrik Zetterberg on the eventual game winner early in the third period.

Zetterberg picked up the puck near the Ottawa blue line, beat Phaneuf to the outside, slipped the puck under the stick of the Sens’ newest blue liner and quickly roofed his shot on Craig Anderson.

“He made a real good play and you’ve got to give credit when credit is due,” Phaneuf told the Ottawa Sun.

“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”

Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.

Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.

DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”