Rangers top Sens for fifth straight win

New York Rangers' Derek Stepan celebrates a second-period

New York Rangers' Derek Stepan celebrates a second-period goal against the Ottawa Senators with teammate Marian Gaborik during an NHL hockey game in Ottawa, Ontario. (Nov. 9, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

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OTTAWA -- Rangers coach John Tortorella often compares Derek Stepan to a young Brad Richards. He did it Wednesday morning, as a matter of fact.

Stepan has found a home centering Marian Gaborik in a way that Richards has not. For now, that's just fine with the Rangers.

Gaborik scored twice, Stepan scored once and the Artem Anisimov-Stepan-Gaborik line combined with Henrik Lundqvist to give the Rangers a 3-2 victory over the Senators at Scotiabank Place Wednesday night.

The Rangers' fifth straight win also was the Senators' fourth loss in a row. Ottawa outshot the Rangers 31-19, but Lundqvist made 29 saves.

Gaborik has seven points in his last four games. It wasn't clicking with Richards, but it is with Stepan, who assisted on both of Gaborik's goals. Anisimov also had two assists.

"I would be pretty honored to be able to follow in the footsteps of a player like that," Stepan said of Richards. "I'm just trying to learn from guys and the coaching staff and just do whatever it takes."

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Stepan's line did whatever it took offensively with all seven of the Rangers' points. Tortorella shuffled the other lines after a scoreless first period in which the Rangers were outshot 11-4.

After Ottawa took the lead at 8:39 of the second when Milan Michalek scored, Gaborik tied it 42 seconds later. Stepan gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead 2:17 after that.

"That's huge, to come back right away after they score the first one," Lundqvist said. "So they don't have any time to feel good about themselves.''

Said Stepan: "I wouldn't sit here and say our line created all the momentum. I think of some of the other things that you guys really don't take into account, the other lines were doing."

In the third, Gaborik converted a two-on-one with Stepan to give the Rangers a two-goal advantage at 8:30.

Nick Foligno brought the Senators to within a goal 1:18 later, but the Rangers held on like they didn't on Oct. 29, when they blew a 4-1 lead to Ottawa and lost 5-4 in a shootout.

Echoes from the earlier matchup were felt Wednesday night. The Senators lost Daniel Alfredsson to a concussion on Oct. 29 after a third-period elbow to the head from Wojtek Wolski. Alfredsson skated with his teammates for the first time Wednesday.

Wednesday night, Sean Avery and Zenon Konopka fought just 2:50 into the game. Andre Deveaux and Jeff Cowen did the same in the second period. An evening which held the promise of fisticuffs delivered. Konopka, an Islander last season, has been outspoken ever since about what the Wolski hit cost the Senators.

Wolski, out a month after hernia surgery, wasn't on hand to defend himself. But Tortorella said of Konopka's comments, "I don't give a ---- what Zenon whatever-his-name-is said. We're going to go about our business and try to play the right way."

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Notes & quotes: Mike Rupp had surgery to repair a torn meniscus and is out 4-to-6 weeks . . . Newly acquired D Anton Stralman skated at the Rangers practice facility and is expected to join the team on the ice Thursday.

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