Rangers smother Senators to win Game 3

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Much has been made of the New York Rangers’ less-than-stellar work at Madison Square Garden in recent playoff appearances, yet it sure felt like a return home did the trick in shrinking Ottawa’s series lead to 2-1 in Game 3.

Then again, maybe you chalk it up to Alain Vigneault adding toughness to the lineup vs. the Ottawa Senators … or any number of antidotes.

Whatever explanation you have, Tuesday’s 4-1 win made this second-round series feel new again, not unlike the Capitals edging the Penguins last night. While the Senators didn’t suffer a loss at the level of Sidney Crosby, there must be some concern that still-quite-important winger Bobby Ryan might be banged up. They also lost Zack Smith in addition to the contest.

MORE: Click here to see how Smith got hurt

After fumbling a big lead in Game 2, the Rangers mostly nullified the Senators, though Ryan helped J.G. Pageau keep his unexpected goal tear going with a sublime setup. (Check out that nifty assist here.)

In many ways, it was a lot like Vigneault probably draws it up. New York burned Ottawa at times in transition, enjoying a balanced attack thanks to Michael Grabner, Mats Zuccarello and Rick Nash. Craig Anderson had a rare off night while Henrik Lundqvist was sharp when called upon.

The Rangers now have a chance to “hold serve” at home by making the series 2-2, while the Senators get another chance to push New York to the brink of elimination in Game 4. That contest airs on NBCSN at 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday. You can watch online and via the NBC Sports App; click here for the livestream.