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Rangers dodge a bullet in Ottawa

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

The series heads back to New York on Thursday night for the first Game Seven 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.

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.

Neil was planted at the edge of Henrik 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.

That got the frenzied towel-waving crowd into a lather that only increased when Neil answered Brandon Prust's challenge for a fight eight minutes later.

The momentum seemed to be in Ottawa's favor when the first intermission hit, especially with goalie Craig Anderson locked into a lengthy shutout streak and looking sharp once again.

But the Senators lost their focus in the second period and referees Steve Kozari and Tim Peel gave the Rangers four power plays.

Stepan tied the game 1-1 during the first one at 8:55, taking two whacks at a sweet pass from Richards to beat Anderson. That ended the Rangers scoring drought at 145 minutes, 27 seconds.

A call that Ottawa fans will question helped put New York ahead for good.

New York received a lengthy 5-on-3 after Nick Foligno was sent off for goaltender interference -- replays showed two Rangers players guiding him into Lundqvist -- and Richards took advantage of the extra space by skating off the wall and beating Anderson high at 17:08.

That was soon followed by a back-breaking goal from Kreider, the first of his NHL career. He sneaked a shot through Anderson with 40.3 seconds to play in the period to make it 3-1.

Ottawa successfully staged a number of dramatic comebacks during the regular season -- they also erased a two-goal deficit while winning Game Four -- and had plenty of opportunities to mount another one here. But Lundqvist held the Senators at bay on two power plays.

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