OTTAWA---The Rangers are missing something---not just Brandon Dubinsky, who sat out with a sinus problem: Big goals. Power-play goals. Goals in the third period, where they once reigned.
The Blueshirts, who are having trouble holding onto the puck as well, have just two goals in the last two games following the Senators 4-1 win at ScotiaBank Place tonight, and more importantly, have collected just three points in the last four games.
It was the first time since Dec. 13 through 15th that the suddenly struggling Rangers have lost consecutive games in regulation, a span of 36 games.
“We didn’t do a good enough job in a lot of areas,” said defenseman Ryan McDonagh. “We turned the puck over more than we want to, and they capitalized on some rushes. There were some good spurts, but it just wasn’t a complete effort on both ends of the ice.”
With the Rangers down 2-1 in the third, Daniel Alfredsson grabbed Michael Del Zotto’s turnover in the Rangers end, wheeled through center ice and went around Anton Stralman. Martin Biron (18 saves) stopped the puck, but Kyle Turris fired in the rebound for the two-goal advantage at 14:07. Jason Spezza finished it off with an empty-netter with 1:27 left and coach John Tortorella's grim face told the story.
“We don’t come back hard enough, and again, we just didn’t generate enough.
We’re beating ourselves sometimes,” said Tortorella. “We’re finding ways to lose.”
The Rangers (42-17-7, 91 points), who also lost 4-1 to the Devils on Tuesday remain six points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Atlantic Division. But the Ranger turnovers---and the Senators’ quick transition game---set an unsettling tone. It didn’t help that the Blueshirts were 0-for-4 on the power play. “We just don’t shoot the puck enough,” said Tortorella. “We don’t have a big shot from the point, but as we went on, I thought it got better.”
Biron, who made 21 saves in a 3-2 win in Carolina on March 1, was victimized on two of the first four shots by the Senators, who had just seven shots through 40 minutes. After Ryan Callahan dove to poke in a cross-ice pass from Brad Richards past 6-foot-7 goaltender Ben Bishop at 4:36 of the opening period, the Senators answered just 1:14 later.
Marc Staal was stripped at the blueline by Erik Condra, who passed to the left circle, where Zach Smith wound up and fired. The shot hit Stu Bickel’s stick and went past Biron’s far side. Then John Mitchell’s clearing attempt from his own zone was picked off, Biron couldn’t control Jim O’Brien’s rebound, and Nick Foligno buried the puck at 18:50. “We have to support each other out there better in the neutral zone, create some more zone time,” said Marian Gaborik. “We have to play together as five.”
Bishop won his second start as a Senator, but really wasn't tested by the Rangers, with just 26 shots. “It’s frustrating,” said Biron. “We just want to get back to our identity, it’s not that far off, sometimes a play here or there will make a difference. We’re fighting it a little bit. We don’t have much time to turn it around and try to get a win and try to turn that page quickly.”