NEW YORK, N.Y. (Jan. 12, 2012) – On Thursday, the New York Rangers, with an intent for a sixth victory in as many contests, saw their five-game winning streak reach a screeching halt, as they went down by a 3-0 final in Eastern Conference play to the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y. As a result, the Blueshirts slipped to 27-10-4 overall. Meanwhile, the Sens are now 24-15-6, and winners of three straight.
During the first period, the start seemed slow, and very similar to Tuesday’s tilt against Phoenix. Just over five minutes in though, the match opened up for the Rangers, who outshot the Senators 13-6, after surrendering a pair of shots to the opposition at the beginning of the contest. The Blueshirts had an opportunity to get on the board early on, but Marc Staal’s follow-up backhand off a Derek Stepan one-timer was turned aside by Ottawa netminder Mike Anderson’s left pad. Anderson entered the evening with a six-game winning streak in net.
Later on, Dan Girardi and Brad Richards combined for three quality chances on the Blueshirts’ first extra-man advantage, which occurred via the Sens having one-too many on the ice. Anderson managed to stop all three shots, and every attempt that came his way in the opening stanza. Ottawa got off a pair of chances before the period reached its end, but Blueshirts’ goaltender Henrik Lundqvist stopped both. With a combined 21 saves between the two goalies, the Rangers and Senators left the Garden rink for the intermission in a 0-0 tie.
During the second period, the momentum swung to the Senators’ offensive side of the ice. After the Blueshirts had some chances in the first 3:30, Ottawa took over from there. Lundqvist proved to be strong early on, as he knocked aside a pair of Kyle Turris chances, including a breakaway. However, with 11:06 to go, Jason Spezza broke the scoreless tie when he ripped the puck into the short side, giving the Senators a 1-0 cushion. On the play, the All-Star skated into the circle, waited for traffic, and found the twine for his 17th tally of the year.
Following Spezza’s goal, Ottawa didn’t stop trying to break through. With 10:42 to go, Filip Kuba slapped the puck from the point toward Lundqvist. The Swedish goalie then made the save to keep the deficit as is. Over a minute after that chance, Girardi looked to tie it back up, but Anderson was flawless, stopping his try from the right circle. Shortly after, a shot going for the pads off a 3-on-2 opportunity by Mike Rupp was closed up, while New York defenseman Anton Stralman trailed for an attempt that was snatched by Anderson’s glove.
Between the pipes, Anderson, who led his Ottawa team into the second intermission with a slim 1-0 lead, had recorded 24 shots to that point. Meanwhile, Lundqvist stopped 14 of 15 through two for the Rangers, who led both teams in most of the statistical column. New York sported a 24-15 advantage in shots, a 27-14 margin in hits, a 6-3 edge in takeaways, and an 11-6 clip in blocked shots. The Sens owned the faceoff dot, 23-20.
During the third period, the Rangers came out strong, putting pucks on net in the hopes that one would trickle behind Anderson. After a slow and tumultuous opening few minutes, Brad Richards slapped a one-timer, while Derek Stepan wristed a shot from between the circles, both of which were stopped. The best chance to tie the match for the Blueshirts came with 6:12 left, as Brian Boyle’s chance from the slot was gloved, and frozen.
Seconds after Boyle’s shot, Erik Karlsson found a trailing Milan Michalek, who went from his back hand to fore hand, and subsequently doubled the Sens’ lead when he struck the top-left corner of the net. That proved to be all Ottawa would need, as Spezza tacked on an insurance tally with 4:27 to go, making it a 3-0 game.
For the contest, the Rangers out-shot the Senators, 34-24. They also held a 37-21 margin in hits, a 16-9 clip in blocked shots and a 6-3 edge in takeaways. Ottawa owned the faceoff circle by a 32-26 count. Between the pipes, Anderson preserved the shutout, turning aside all 34 shots that came his way. Lundqvist made 21 saves.
“We had shots and chances, but just couldn’t get a goal,” said Rangers captain Ryan Callahan. “We know we aren’t going to win out. It is frustrating, but we have to put this one behind us, and get back on the horse.”
Lundqvist stated similar comments: “We want to win. It doesn’t matter what we have done in the past. We are honest with ourselves…Some games we have been winning, and playing well, some days we have to be better.”
Head Coach John Tortorella wrapped up the evening with his words at the podium. “Our room has really grown and that is a good thing. There is a push from within players…Tonight, our role players played well, but we had squat from our top guys.”
New York will look to get back on track on Saturday (Jan. 14) when they open a two-game road trip in Canada against the Toronto Maple Leafs in an Original Six match-up at the Air Canada Centre. The puck drops at 7 p.m.