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Sauer's first NHL goal is a game-winner

New York Rangers' Sean Avery, left, puts some

New York Rangers' Sean Avery, left, puts some weight on Ottawa Senators' Jesse Winchester in the first period of NHL action at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa. (Dec. 9, 2010) Photo Credit: MCT Photo

OTTAWA - Mike Sauer's errant pass from the corner to the slot resulted in a goal by the Senators' Mike Fisher only 2:54 into the game to begin the scoring last night.

But the Rangers defenseman, playing in only his 27th NHL game, forced the mistake out of his mind and rebounded big-time. Sauer, 23, slapped in his first NHL goal on a power play to break a tie at 14:41 of the third period as the Rangers beat the Senators, 5-3, for their NHL-leading 11th road victory.

"You've got to have a short memory," Sauer said after the victory was sealed by Brandon Dubinsky's empty-netter with 52 seconds to play, the Rangers' third goal of the third period. "Things happen. It was early in the game so I just had to regroup. There's a lot of game left to play, and then to finish like that, it makes it a little sweeter."

With Chris Neil in the box for charging, Sauer had just come on the ice. He stepped into a pass from Brandon Prust and let fly at Brian Elliott. It wasn't exactly the prettiest goal. "My job was to get the shot on net," he said. "It found its way, inside pad, hit the post and in. Once it hit the post, I was like, 'Please go in.' "

Sauer's roommate, Derek Stepan, who scored to tie the game at 1-1 in the first, was planning to rib his fellow Minnesota native. "I'm going to give him a good hard time tonight about how he shot it through the goalie's chest," Stepan said. "But a goal's a goal, and it came at a big time for us."

The Rangers (17-12-1, 11-4-0 on the road), who had been 0-for-3 on power plays, trailed by a goal three times en route to capturing their fourth in a row away from Madison Square Garden. They face the Blue Jackets in Columbus tomorrow.

The Rangers' Erik Christensen scored his fifth goal to tie the score at 3-3 at 3:30 of the third period. After the puck bounced off the end boards, his slapper from near the goal line to the right of Elliott slipped in. "We got a little lucky," coach John Tortorella said.

The second period had begun with a bang and a missing player. Derek Boogaard, who fought with Matt Carkner at 17:59 of the first period, did not return. Carkner broke Boogaard's nose and injured his shoulder when he wrestled him to the ice. Carkner was given a 10-minute misconduct for either chirping or flicking blood as he passed the Rangers' bench. Tortorella did not want to discuss the incident.

Jason Spezza gave the Senators a 2-1 lead at the 34-second mark on a power play and Ruslan Fedotenko tied it at 1:43 with a high, sharp-angle short-side wrister. At 2:08, Fisher initially was awarded a goal, but replays showed that his shot hit Henrik Lundqvist's mask and went off the post, and the on-ice ruling was reversed. Fisher did score his second at 8:47.

It was the second time in five days that the teams faced each other. Chris Kelly's hat trick was the difference in the Senators' 3-1 win at Madison Square Garden Sunday.

"I don't think it was a great game by either team," Tortorella said. "It was a struggle for us defensively, and Michael [Sauer] was one of them. He's a young kid that learns from those mistakes. At the start of the season, who'da thunk he'd be playing these minutes for us? It's nice to see him bounce back and get rewarded."

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