New York, NY – The New York Rangers (16-12-1) missed out on their opportunity to defeat the Ottawa Senators (12-14-2) in what was a tough 3-1 loss in hockey action on Sunday evening. Senators center Chris Kelly hat trick was all the Senators needed to get a victory over the Blueshirts.
“It’s a tough loss,” keeper Henrik Lundqvist said after the game. “I think they started out a lot better than we did. We worked ourselves back into this game in the second period. It could have gone either way. We had a couple of chances to bury it. It is always tough when you give up a late goal like that.”
Kelly began his hat trick by netting a shorthanded goal at the 4:27 mark of the second period. The center netted a 15 foot wrister that went past Rangers keeper Henrik Lundqvist to make the score 1-0 in favor of the Senators. Brandon Prust (3) then responded with a shorthanded goal of his own at the 10:50 mark. Prust who netted a 20 foot wrist shot that tied the two teams up at 1-1.
The Rangers had a flurry of opportunities as at the 13:07 mark of the second period Marc Staal tried to tip-in the second Blueshirts goal, but Ottawa keeper Pascal Leclaire was able to make the save. At the 13:58 mark Mike Sauer also had a shot for the Rangers as he let go of a 58 foot wrist shot, but sadly for the 18,200 in attendance that shot just went wide. Neither team could cash in on their offensive opportunities as the two teams skated into the locker room at the end of the second period tied at 1-1.
As the third period began the chants of Lets Go Rangers rained down from the rafters of Madison Square Garden as the Blueshirt faithful was trying to cheer their team on to victory. It had seemed as if the energy may pay off as Brandon Dubinsky had a 19 foot snapshot, but sadly for those in attendance Leclaire was able to stick his pad out to make the save.
The Blueshirts still tried to keep their offensive momentum going by trying a myriad of shots, with one of the better shot opportunities coming from Brian Boyle at the 14:23 mark, but the shot just went over the net. Then the energy and the air went out of Madison Square Garden as Kelly netted his second goal of the game, recording a 12 foot wrist shot at the 17:36 mark to give the Senators the 2-1 lead.
On the game-winning goal Lundqvist would have this to say, “The puck was behind the net and I didn’t pick up the guy. They made a good play. I don’t know if he came down the wing. I didn’t pick him up until it was too late. It happens. Like I said, it could have gone either way. We had chances to win this game.”
Marian Gaborik would have an opportunity to tie the two teams up at the 19:23 mark of the third period, but could not cash in as his 16 foot snap shot went wide of the net. Kelly (6) would then tally his hat trick at the 19:59 mark of the third period netting an empty net goal to give the Senators the 3-1 lead and eventually the victory.
“For me it was a tough one to eat because it was still a winnable game,” said head coach John Tortorella. “I thought we did some really good things. We got some good looks with the power play, but we couldn’t finish. As poorly as we started, I thought we regrouped and we could have won it.”
Leclaire who finished the night with 25 saves was named to the first star of the game, while on the other side of the ice Lundqvist who was the third star of the game made 22 saves.
“He (Pascal Leclaire) made some good stops. We certainly generated enough chances to find a way to win the game,” Dubinsky would say afterward. “We have to put in a full 60 minutes or you’re going to find yourself in the situation that we are in right now, without any points. AT the same time, I have a wide open net and I have to find a way to bury that. We have to finish on some of our opportunities; we have to capitalize on those chances that we missed.”
“I want to come up with that save and help the team get a point at least,” Lundqvist would say of being named a star but still losing the game. “It is hard to be satisfied when you can’t make that stop in the end. It felt like that kind of a game-the last five, ten minutes of the game both teams weren’t taking any chances.”
These two teams will face-off again as the Rangers will look to have a better start on Thursday night as they will head to Ottawa for a 7:30 p.m. rematch.
“I think the way we played in the second part of the game was really good, we played a lot more physical and played a lot tougher. They are a really skilled team so if you give them too much room in the offensive zone they will take advantage,” said Lundqvist. “The good thing is that we really responded after the first, we knew that we could play better and we did. It was a wide open game going into the third, everyone felt like we could win. Unfortunately we came up short.”
Charity Note: On Tuesday December 7, 2010 the New York Rangers will be holding their 17th Annual Toy Drive as the Blueshirts will team up with Toys for Toys program. The collection which will take place in the Theater Lobby at Madison Square Garden from 4-7 p.m. Expected to be on hand to provide photos and autograph opportunities will be Blueshirt great Adam Graves as well as several current Rangers.