The New York Rangers have to win Game 5 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals at Madison Square Garden, or they won't be able to win the series and advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1994.
After a convincing 4-1 victory by the New Jersey Devils in Game 4 on Monday night, the Rangers now face the possibility of traveling to the Prudential Center for Game 6 down 3-2.
If the Rangers lose Game 5, they will need to win back-to-back games, something they have done just once in the playoffs thus far.
The only time they needed to win consecutive games was against the Ottawa Senators in round one, and they did, but the Devils are a far better opponent than Ottawa.
New York's inconsistency in the playoffs is a real concern, especially against a Devils team with lots of playoff experience.
Several of the Rangers' top six forwards, such as Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan and Marian Gaborik, have really struggled in this series.
The three of them have combined for two points (an empty net goal and an assist) in this series, and the Rangers cannot beat the Devils if their offensive slumps continue.
New Jersey's offense awoke in Game 5, and that could be bad news for the Rangers. Devils captain Zach Parise played his best game of the series with two goals and an assist in Game 4 and may be climbing out of his own slump.
If the Devils offense continues to play well and give goaltender Martin Brodeur a lead to protect in Game 5, the Rangers will have a tough time taking control of the series on Wednesday night.
In the two Game 5s that the Rangers have played in this postseason, they lost to the Senators 2-0 in the first round and barely escaped with a win against the Capitals for a 3-2 overtime victory. Both of these games were at MSG, and New York played poorly in both of them.
The Rangers must play a great Game 5 on Wednesday, or their season will likely end in Newark in Game 6.
A Game 5 win would open the door for the Devils to have a chance to write another chapter in their amazing season, one that could end with the franchise's fourth Stanley Cup championship in the last two decades.
NHL playoff schedule for Rangers vs. Devils Game 5:
|Devils at Rangers||Wednesday, May 23||8:00 p.m. ET||NBC Sports Network|