By Jim Cerny, BlueshirtsUnited.com
Jakob Silfverberg's goal with 4:41 remaining in regulation lifted the Ottawa Senators to a 3-2 victory over the Rangers Friday night at Madison Square Garden. The loss snapped the Rangers season-best four-game winning streak.
Silfverberg hammered the rebound of Eric Gryba's hard slap shot that handcuffed Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist into the back of the cage for his fourth goal of the season---and second in as many games against the Blueshirts. Several minutes earlier Gryba had nearly put Ottawa ahead, but his right-wing one-timer had caromed off the crossbar behind Lundqvist.
The Senators---who closed out their five-game road trip by winning their first game of the trip on Friday---controlled most of the action against a tiring Rangers team in the latter stages of the third period. The Blueshirts had beaten the Islanders in overtime 24 hours earlier. Rookie goaltender Robin Lehner finished with 33 saves for Ottawa, including a game-altering stop on a wide-open Derek Stepan in the low slot midway through the final period.
Lundqvist, who made his sixth consecutive start in goal for the Rangers, stopped 36 of 39 Ottawa shots.
The Rangers spotted the Senators a two-goal lead midway through the first period, but the red-hot Rick Nash halted the visitors' momentum by scoring 13 seconds after the Senators second goal. And before the first period was over Brad Richards scored to pull the Blueshirts even.
Things quieted down in a scoreless second period, and that 2-2 score held up into the second intermission, with both teams having recorded 22 shots on goal. The closest either team came to snapping the tie in the middle period came at the 8:35 mark when Michael Del Zotto zipped a right-wing shot off the post after a slick cross-ice feed on the rush from J.T. Miller.
Ottawa's Zack Smith opened the scoring by deflecting a Sergei Gonchar slap shot past Lundqvist at 6:18 of the first, his second goal of the season. At that point the slow-starting Rangers---who had played the night before on Long Island---were being outshot 6-1, and head coach John Tortorella used his timeout to rally the troops. But with Thursday's overtime hero Marian Gaborik in the penalty box for tripping, Ottawa's Patrick Wiercioch snuck a long distance shot past a screened Lundqvist at 10:50 to put the Senators up 2-0.
With his team seemingly on the ropes, Nash took over, as he does so often since returning from injury five games ago. Nash skated into the offensive zone and fired a shot between the legs of an Ottawa defenseman and past Lehner at 11:03 to bring the Rangers back to life. The goal was his team-high ninth of the season, and sixth in the past five games. It was also his first goal as a Ranger not scored in the third period this season.
Before the first period could come to a close Richards was able to blast a one-timer top far shelf off a Carl Hagelin drop pass on left wing to tie the game 2-2. The goal snapped Richards' career-worst 15-game goalless drought, and was his third of the season, coming after his two-game injury absence.
The return of Richards to the lineup meant the exit of Brian Boyle from the lineup. Boyle was scratched by Tortorella, who shifted Miller into Boyle's spot centering the third line. It also meant both Micheal Haley and Stu Bickel remained in the lineup on the fourth line. Haley made his presence felt, credited with three hits and two blocked shots along with his first fight as a Ranger---a first-period scrap with Chris Phillips after he flattened Ottawa's Jim O'Brien with what was called a charging penalty by the officials.