At a glance: The Rangers have to win Monday in Ottawa to avoid elimination by the eighth-seeded Senators in what would be a major upset in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Ottawa has captain Daniel Alfredsson back in the lineup as they aim to finish off the first-place Rangers and advance to the second round. The Senators have the chance to become the second eighth-place team to knock off a 1-seed in two days -- the LA Kings downed the Vancouver Canucks with a victory in Game 5 on Sunday -- while the Rangers try to become the second team in franchise history to come back from a 3-2 series deficit.
Alfredsson back: After missing the last three games of the series with a concussion suffered in Game 2, Alfredsson will make his return in front of a revved-up home crowd at Scotiabank Place. The 39-year-old said he feels “physically fine,” although he has not played in over a week. The Senators hope he gives them the needed edge to close out the series and punch their tickets to the conference semifinals.
Missing Boyle: Senators fans will have to find someone else to boo Monday night. The series’ breakout star, Brian Boyle, will not play because of a concussion. The 27-year-old center sustained the head injury on a hit from Ottawa’s Chris Neil in Saturday's 2-0 shutout loss to the Senators. Neil was not penalized on the play and he avoided any supplementary discipline from the league.
Rookie return: The void created in Boyle’s absence will be significant for the Blueshirts, but they’ll add a component of speed with rookie Carl Hagelin’s return to the lineup. The 23-year-old winger sat out the last three games while serving a suspension for the hit that concussed Alfredsson. He is expected to play on the team’s top line with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik.
Even-strength woes: The Rangers have not tallied an even-strength goal since Boyle’s game winner in Game 3, a span of 135:07 minutes. The team recorded two man-up goals in Game 4 and were blanked by Craig Anderson’s 41-save effort Saturday.
Young guns: Sens prospect Mark Stone, 19, made an impressive NHL debut when he set up Jason Spezza’s first-period goal on Saturday in his first game since making the jump from junior hockey to the Stanley Cup playoffs. Ottawa has another blue-chipper for Monday’s game as well. Swedish winger Jakob Silfverberg, 21, is a possibility to play since joining the team after claiming MVP honors in the Swedish Elite League playoffs.