Rangers forcefully force Game 7
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Apr. 24, 2012 02:8 AM

Game 7 at the Garden.

It's not necessarily what the top-seeded Rangers were hoping for when their first-round Eastern Conference series against Ottawa started, but they're thrilled about it now.

Brad Richards scored the go-ahead goal and Derek Stepan had a goal and two assists as New York staved off elimination with a 3-2 victory against the Senators on Monday night.

''We showed some desperation tonight,'' Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said.

The series heads back to New York for Game 7 on Thursday night. It's 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.

''I didn't really think that we played particularly well or worked particularly hard,'' Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said.

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. That goal was reviewed after some question about whether Spezza kicked it in.

''It's unbelievable,'' said Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who finished with 25 saves. ''It still upsets me because we had this game, then they get a chance. Someone wants them back in the game, obviously, because there's no other explanation.''

In the first, Neil was planted at the edge of 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.

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