Stanley Cup playoffs three stars: Rangers level series against Senators

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The New York Rangers pulled even with the Ottawa Senators in their NHL playoff series on Thursday.

Behind eight goals in two games and stellar goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers have drawn level at 2-2 with the Senators after a 4-1 win in game four.

In a further blow to the Senators, Erik Karlsson appeared to aggravate his heel injury.

The Norris Trophy finalist has been playing through fractures in his left heel all postseason and appeared to aggravate the injury during a sequence of collisions.

Senators coach Guy Boucher said keeping Karlsson out was a matter of erring on the side of caution, but a three-goal deficit is hardly insurmountable.

Karlsson is Ottawa's unquestioned MVP, so if he goes, the Senators' chances at advancing could go too.

Three stars

Ryan McDonagh, Rangers - Overshadowed by the fine playoff performances by Karlsson, McDonagh has been an unwavering force for the Rangers. He skated another 25 minutes, 14 seconds in game four and assisted on New York's fourth goal, his fourth point of the series and fifth of the playoffs.

Oscar Lindberg, Rangers - Lindberg's pair of second-period goals effectively crushed the Sens' spirits. The forward now has three goals in his last two games after going the entire postseason with just one assist. That kind of depth production is what will get the Rangers to the conference finals.

Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers - Lundqvist was stellar again to earn his 61st career playoff win, moving into a tie Tom Barrasso for 13th all time. He stopped 22 of 23 shots and would have had a shutout if not for a late Kyle Turris goal.

Highlight

Chris Kreider's second goal of the playoffs was the backbreaker for the Senators. The pesky power forward struggled in the first round against the Montreal Canadiens but now has two goals in three games as the Rangers surge back.

Friday's game to watch

Game five: Predators at Blues - Nashville are one win from their first Western Conference finals in franchise history. If St Louis are to live to fight another day, they will have to find a way to get pucks past Pekka Rinne, whose .953 save percentage leads all playoff goalies.