NEW YORK – This is becoming habit forming.
Another third period comeback, followed by another shootout win, gave the Rangers a 2-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden.
This time the Blueshirts were down 1-0 going into the third before they were able to strike. But much like the last few games at MSG, the Rangers had to endure two tough periods before a fire was lit fire under their skates.
Although it’s been working, it’s something coach Tom Renney knows won’t last.
“I think what we have done in the last couple of game is minimize the opportunities our opponent has had in the first two periods,” said coach Tom Renney. “We haven’t been able to turn it the other way and go light the lamp at the other end of the rink. I think we have solidified parts of our game. We need to be more of an attacking team.”
Be that as it may, the Rangers still played well enough to get the two points. This time thanks to Freddie Sjostrom, whose hard work with Blair Betts, enabled the team to tie the game at 7:17 of the third.
“We were fired up and we were going to have to win this no matter what,” Sjostrom said. “Everybody excelled and played really hard tonight. We started to play more physical in the third and that’s our game.”
Of course, none of these comebacks could happen if Henrik Lundqvist wasn’t his solid self. The Ranger netminder stopped 27 of the 28 shots on the night, including some tough ones in the second.
“It was important to shut them down,” said Lundqvist, who now is 12-4-2 on the season. “They’re coming off a pretty tough stretch and if they get a couple of early goals and get the confidence, they can be a pretty tough team.”
Lundqvist was actually better than his record tonight because it looked like he was interfered on by Jason Spezza, as Daniel Alfredsson scored the Ottawa goal with 3:47 left in the second. Spezza knocked his stick into the back of Lundqvist’s knee, which should be an interference call, according to Renney.
But the goal stood, which allowed the Rangers to make it an interesting third. Renney juggled his lines again and limited Nik Zherdev’s and Aaron Voros’s ice time. That allowed Sjostrom to shine and ultimately got The King into the shootout where he simply holds court.
“The Zamboni comes out and you just try to relax,” said Lundqvist, who is now 3-1 in shootouts this season. “A lot of times I think about the extra point and that kind of fires me up. I like the challenge of facing the best players on the other team. I get nervous because you play such a big part and you want to win so badly for the guys. You need to have a lot of patience and right now I have both.”
Zherdev redeemed himself for his third period absence, by going five-hole on Alex Auld [26 save overall]. Lundqvist then stopped Spezza, Jarkko Ruutu and Antoine Vermette for the two points and now conference leading 30 points overall.
Notes: Ruutu seemed to agitate the Rangers in the first, especially Brandon Dubinsky and Aaron Voros, who fought the Finnish winger. But Dubinsky said he ignored him the rest of the game.
“He’s an idiot,” Dubinsky said. “He’s not professional out there. He tries to get under guys skin. It doesn’t matter. He’s not bothering me.”
Scott Gomez sat out his third straight game with a leg injury.