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2012 NHL Playoffs: Rangers Force Game 7 Against Senators, Coyotes Advance

While the Penguins bowed out on Sunday afternoon, the first round of the 2012 NHL Playoffs continued on Monday night with two elimination games on the docket in Ottawa and Chicago.

The No. 1 seed New York Rangers held on in Game 6 for a 3-2 win in Ottawa, forcing a Game 7 at Madison Square Garden. Rangers' goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was solid again, stuffing 25 shots. Ottawa added a controversial late goal in the final minute, but the Rangers work on the power play in the second period locked this one up. Derek Stepan opened the scoring for New York, notching his first goal of the playoffs, a power play strike that beat Craig Anderson to even it up 1-1. Stepan was absolutely brilliant all night, earning the top star with the goal and assisting on the Rangers' other two scores. His pretty feed to rookie Chris Kreider, who scored his first career goal after signing with the team just this month, proved to be the difference.

While the Rangers held on in the first game of the night, the Chicago Blackhawks were unable to force Game 7 against the Phoenix Coyotes. In a series that featured overtime in each of the first five games, the Coyotes received some dominant goaltending from Mike Smith to roll to a 4-0 shutout win. Smith had 16 saves in the first period alone, carrying the Coyotes to the third period with a 1-0 lead. Phoenix would pounce over the final 20 minutes, scoring three goals to remove all doubt. Two came on the power play, after Jimmy Hayes was issued a five-minute major and was sent off for boarding Michal Rozsival.

It was the first playoff series win for the franchise since 1987, when the club was still in Winnipeg. The Coyotes will face the Nashville Predators in the second round, pitting two of the hottest goaltenders in the game against one another, in Phoenix's Smith and Nashville's Pekka Rinne.

New York, meanwhile, will head home and host the Senators in Game 7 on Thursday night.

We'll have more on these games in this StoryStream, but please head over to the SB Nation NHL hub page for more on the Playoffs.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.