OTTAWA---Last season, Henrik Lundqvist posted a 9-4-2 record in the last 15 games and the Rangers barely missed the playoffs in a shootout loss in Philadelphia on the final day of the season. If the Blueshirts are to have more a successful finish, Lundqvist will have to match or better that mark.
Lundqvist, who made 28 saves, was almost perfect tonight, and the Rangers scored twice in 12 seconds early in the second period to break open a 1-0 game at Scotiabank Place, snap a three-game losing streak and restore some much-needed confidence after a 4-10-1 slide with a 4-1 victory over the Senators.
The Rangers goalkeeper also displayed his feisty side early in the third period, wading into a scrum and getting his glove in the face of Nick Foligno and on the ensuing 4 on 4, Derek Stepan took a feed from Wojtek Wolski, sped down the middle ahead of Erik Karlsson at 2:26 and beat Craig Anderson high glove side for a 4-0 advantage. Sergei Gonchar’s low slapper on the power play, with Matt Gilroy off for high-sticking, went through some legs and past Lundqvist to ruin his bid for a ninth shutout.
With their first win in four games, the Rangers improved to 20-13-1 on the road---including capturing the last three away games---and kept pace in the playoff race. At 34-29-4, the Rangers have 72 points with 15 games to play. Ninth-place Buffalo, with 68, has four games in hand,and was idle.
With the Rangers ahead on Vinny Prospal’s goal in the first period, the two sudden goals gave them a rare cushion. It was only the third time the Blueshirts had scored more than two goals in eight games and continued their streak here against the Senators. They have won in the last four visits.
Mats Zuccarello, with his first goal in 19 games, came when he backhanded in a rebound of Stepan's shot at 6:26. On the next faceoff, Artem Anisimov zipped across the blue line, deked, cut right to left and buried a forehand past Anderson at 6:38 for a 3-0 lead. It was an unusual night for Anderson against New York. He had been superb against the Rangers when he was with Colorado, going 4-1-1 with a 1.48 GAA.
The Sens, who had won four of the last six, almost scored twice in the final 30 seconds of the second period, when Karlsson hit the outside of a wide-open net from the lower right circle and another shot hit the crossbar.
In the first, Prospal’s seeing-eye wrister from the right boards had provided a 1-0 edge at 10:08. Sean Avery and Chris Phillips were battling on the end boards and both came past the net as puck flew past a possibly screened Anderson.
For Prospal, who missed most of the season following knee surgery, it was his fourth goal in just 14 games, assisted by Avery. The Rangers didn’t get a sniff on a power play at 11:45, with Marek Svatos in the box, but their penalty-kill was 2-for-2, denying the Senators after a hold by Ryan Callahan and a boarding by Zuccarello. Anisimov had three of the eight Rangers shots.
With rookie defenseman Ryan McDonagh out with a wrenched knee, veteran Steve Eminger played his 400th game and made the most of the opportunity. He had an assist on Stepan’s goal and was a plus-3.
More to come.,,,