Steve Zipay takes you inside the locker room, home and on the road, with the New York Rangers, and also writes about the NHL, off and on the ice.
Derek Stepan (goal, 2A), NYR sink Senators 4-1
OTTAWA---Derek Stepan scored his first goal in 13 games and set up two others as the Rangers kayoed the Senators 4-1 in a Saturday matinee at Canadian Tire Centre.
After coming out of the penalty box, Stepan skated to the right of goaltender Craig Anderson and fed a cross-crease pass to Brad Richards, who whipped a high shot in at 9:50 of the first to tie the game at one on a 5 on 3 power play. In the second, Stepan sprung Rick Nash with a head-man pass that Nash collected in stride and beat Anderson with a far-side top-shelf bullet from the right circle at 12:45.
The Rangers center, who was selected to the U.S. Olympic Team, capped the second period when he capitalized on an inexcusable turnover by Erik Karlsson down low with 11.5 seconds left, firing a wrister past a surprised Anderson. He now has eight goals and 22 assists in a season that started right after his missed training camp in a contract dispute.
Cam Talbot, making only his second start in goal in 11 games, was fronted by an aggressive, active Rangers defense and had to stop just 14 shots in the first two periods, but 16 in the third as the first-year NHLer won his 10th game against three losses. The Rangers had 31 shots.
In the third, the Senators made a push, and Talbot, 26, who last started in a 7-1 victory in Toronto on Jan. 4, had to turn back 11 attempts in the first 10:15. Mats Zuccarello scored with 3:10 to play for the 4-1 final.
The Senators hadn’t lost in regulation in eight games and the Rangers (26-21-3) won their fifth in six games and moved to 15-10-0 on the road. They host the Capitals at Madison Square Garden Sunday.
Coach Alain Vigneault started the same lineup, except for goalies, for the sixth straight game, and it paid off, as the Senators, denied sustained possession of the puck in the neutral zone, never really controlled the flow of the game.
After scoring just one goal in each of the last two games, the quartet of goals was something that the Rangers, who could have had a couple more, needed. Richards hit iron twice, Anderson stopped Carl Hagelin in close.
Chris Neil, the agitator who had been out for six games with a hamstring injury, tried to instigate several incidents, but the Blueshirts pushed back. He crunched Dominic Moore, who had his head down near the Rangers bench, in the second period, by Moore responded immediately and was called for roughing. The Rangers killed the ensuing power play. Moore said that he thought the hit was "definitely late" but was feeling fine "right now", as he stretched after the game .