Derek Stepan recorded his second three-point game of the season Saturday afternoon up in Ottawa, sparking the Rangers to a 4-1 road victory over the Senators. The surging Rangers have now won five of their last six games, and they boosted their record to 10-3-1 over the last 14 contests.
Stepan assisted on goals by Brad Richards and Rick Nash before scoring one of his own with 11.5 seconds to play in the second period which proved to be a real back-breaker as it provided New York a two-goal lead on the road entering the final period of play. Stepan's other three-point game this season was a Hat Trick scored against the Carolina Hurricanes back on November 2nd at Madison Square Garden.
Cam Talbot started in goal for the Rangers and stopped 29 of 30 shots to up his record to an impressive 10-3-0 in 13 starts and 15 appearances this season. Talbot allowed an early goal on the third shot he faced in the first period and then settled in with the help of his diligent teammates who severely limited Ottawa's scoring chances throughout.
Talbot, who has now allowed two goals or fewer in 13 of his 15 appearances this season, became the first Rangers goalie other than Henrik Lundqvist to beat the Ottawa Senators since Jussi Markkanen turned the trick back on November 23, 2003.
After Ottawa grabbed a 1-0 lead just 3:37 into the game on Mark Methot's left wing shot, the Rangers got right back in it scoring a 5-on-3 power play goal six minutes later to pull even. Fresh out of the penalty box himself, Stepan zipped a cross-crease pass from left to right to an open Richards, who roofed his team-leading 13th goal up and over Senators goalie Craig Anderson to tie the game at 9:50. The Rangers have now scored at least one power play goal in six of their last eight games.
The first period ended with the Rangers holding a commanding 16-6 advantage in shots, though the score remained 1-1. In the second period New York only out-shot Ottawa 9-8, but the Rangers outscored their hosts 2-0 to secure a 3-1 lead.
Stepan made a quick smart pass from the neutral zone to Nash, springing him on a breakaway up right wing, and Nash snapped a wicked shot up and over Anderson's right shoulder at 12:45 to give New York its first lead of the afternoon. Nash's 12th goal of the season was also his fifth in the last seven games; and he now has seven goals in 11 career games against the Senators.
An Erik Karlsson giveaway late in the second period was crucial when Stepan turned it into the Rangers' third goal of the game with 11.5 seconds remaining in the second period. Karlsson lost the puck to Stepan in the right circle, and Stepan's quick shot eluded Anderson to give New York a 3-1 advantage.
The goal was Stepan's eighth of the season, and first in 14 games. He now has had goal droughts of 10, 12, and 13 games this season. The three points he recorded Saturday afternoon now give Stepan 30 on the season, third most on the team and six behind Richards, who leads the Rangers with 36.
After Talbot made 14 saves to open the third period, Mats Zuccarello put the game away with 3:10 to play by scoring an unassisted goal off a neutral zone turnover, his 13th of the season, tying Richards for the team lead in that department.
The Rangers busy weekend continues Sunday night when they return home to host the Washington Capitals at The Garden, their third game in the last four days.