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Seventh heavens in the Eastern Conference
Rangers host clincher for first time since '94

GREENBURGH -- Henrik Lundqvist gave a wink and a smile when asked about his postgame tirade after the New York Rangers stayed alive with a Game Six win at Ottawa.

The usually mild-mannered star goalie, who could be in line to win the Vezina Trophy for the first time, wasn't really in the mood to rehash it. There are much bigger things on his mind and the minds of his teammates, like beating the Senators at home in Game Seven and moving on to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Rangers returned to practice on Wednesday for the first time since winning at Ottawa on Monday and forcing a decisive game at Madison Square Garden tonight (7, Ch. 5 and NBCSN). They were more than happy to discuss the improved power play that produced two of New York's goals in the 3-2 victory in Game Six and the benefits of having this final game on home ice.

"Mentally, you just try to block everything you can't control. Just control your emotion and focus on the right things," said Lundqvist, who was announced Wednesday as one of three Vezina finalists for goalie of the year along with Los Angeles' Jonathan Quick and Nashville's Pekka Rinne.

Home teams were only 17-28 in the first round of the playoffs, heading into Game Seven of the Boston-Washington series on Wednesday night. The Rangers have a spotty record in Game Sevens, winning all three at home but going 3-5 overall. They haven't hosted a Game Seven since the 1994 Stanley Cup finals.

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Devils-Panthers out to break tie

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The numbers could not be more even: Three wins apiece, 15 goals per team. As such, the first six games of the Florida-New Jersey matchup decided nothing.

Welcome to Game Seven.

Looking for their first series victory in 16 years, the Panthers will have home ice tonight for the ultimate game of their Eastern Conference first-round series with the Devils, who forced the winner-take-all matchup with a 3-2 overtime victory in Game Six (8:30 p.m., NHL Network, NBCSN via joined in progress). It's only the second Game Seven in franchise history for Florida, which won one of these in Pittsburgh in the 1996 East finals.

Before leaving for their flight to South Florida, the Devils talked about how going on the road for the final game of a series can minimize distractions, though there is one they cannot ignore. A New Jersey loss could usher in the end of goaltender Martin Brodeur's career, because he'll be a free agent this summer and will be 40 on May 6.

"I plan on coming back," Brodeur said. "It's a decision that we'll make later on."

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