|NYR||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||2|
|OTT||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||0|
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
Henrik Lundqvist recorded his second shutout of the season -- and his second of the week -- as the Rangers played another strong road game, defeating the Ottawa Senators 2-0 on Saturday evening at Scotiabank Place.
Lundqvist earned his 21st victory of the season and his 19th career shutout by stopping all 33 shots he faced. He also blanked the Penguins 4-0 on Monday night at Madison Square Garden.
“The guys are playing really well right now,” Lundqvist said. “We’re winning battles in our own zone, and that’s huge for us. And tonight I really paid attention to the details that I have to think about when I play and I was a lot more in control.”
The Rangers have secured three of a possible four points so far on their current five-game road trip. They now have 54 points on the season and remain in fifth place in the Eastern Conference as the two teams in front of them -- the Flyers and Canadiens -- also both won on Saturday night.
Rookie forward Lauri Korpikoski recorded the first two point game of his NHL career, assisting on Brandon Dubinsky’s game-opening goal and then scoring a crucial goal himself early in the third period.
“It’s good for my confidence, plus it was a big goal for the team, as well as for me personally,” said Korpikoski.
With the Rangers holding a precarious 1-0 lead, Nikolai Zherdev -- who played a dazzling game all night -- made a scintillating move to get around a Sens defenseman on left wing in the offensive zone. Zherdev then flicked a pass to Korpikoski, who swept the puck quickly past rookie goaltender Brian Elliott to increase the Rangers’ advantage to 2-0 at 5:22 of the third.
“I was just watching ‘Z’ making his moves, being a spectator,” joked Korpikoski. “Then when the puck came to me I just tried to go far side with it.”
Korpikoski’s goal was a crucial one because it gave the Rangers the breathing room they could not get against the Sabres in an eventual 2-1 shootout loss on Friday night. In that contest 24 hours earlier, the Rangers scored the first goal of the match, but could not score another despite vastly outplaying Buffalo.
While Ryan Miller was outstanding in making 43 saves against the Rangers on Friday, Elliott was also very solid on Saturday night. Just recalled from the minor leagues to give the struggling Senators a boost, Elliott made 25 saves. He could not backstop a victory for Ottawa, though, and as a result the Senators are now 3-11-2 in their last 16 matches.
Dubinsky opened the scoring at 15:09 of the first period after some hard work deep in the offensive zone by winger Petr Prucha. Battling for the puck in the left wing corner, Prucha -- despite being knocked to his knees -- outworked veteran defenseman Filip Kuba and passed the puck to Korpikoski. Though double teamed, Korpikoski drove to the net and chipped a shot that deflected to Dubinsky, who hammered it past Elliott to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.
“The bottom line is we got a goal by working hard down low, getting to the net, creating havoc,” stated Rangers head coach Tom Renney. “It’s not rocket science by any stretch of the imagination. It’s putting the pucks where they need to go and paying the price to push it across the goal line.”
The goal was a huge relief for Dubinsky, as well. It was his sixth of the season, but his first in 20 games. Korpikoski’s third period score also came after a long drought, one that lasted 22 games.
The Rangers controlled most of the play in the first period, which ended with New York holding a 14-9 shot advantage and the 1-0 lead on the scoreboard. Elliott was poised in goal for Ottawa, making strong stops on Zherdev’s in-close rebound attempt at 2:46, Scott Gomez’s right wing slap shot through heavy traffic at 6:52, and Prucha’s left wing snap shot after a takeaway at 14:18.
The way the Rangers were able to get in deep on the forecheck and limit Ottawa’s chances at the other end of the ice in the first period was a continuation of Friday night’s outstanding road effort in Buffalo.
Ottawa was able to turn the tide in its favor in the second period, however. The Sens had a big advantage in shots on goal -- outshooting the Rangers 14-4 -- and in territorial play. But Lundqvist was stellar between the pipes for the Rangers and, as a result, the 1-0 lead held up after 40 minutes of play.
Lundqvist was challenged in the opening minute of the middle stanza when Antoine Vermette and Chris Kelly broke in on a 2-on-1 rush. Skating on left wing, Vermette decided to pass the puck and Lundqvist was helped out as teammate Marc Staal dove to the ice to break up the pass without a shot on goal taking place.
Aided by Staal on that play, Lundqvist returned the favor to his teammates repeatedly before the period would end. Lundqvist made big-time stops on Dean McAmmond’s shot through traffic at 6:49, Dany Heatley’s wraparound at 10:45, and Daniel Alfredsson’s booming slap shot at 18:30.
Lundqvist’s biggest save in the second, though, came at the 14:51 mark when Vermette accepted a pretty Sean Donovan drop pass and whipped a low backhander on net that required a very quick right pad save.
“You know, it’s a great feeling to get a shutout, but also I am happy with the way I played because I know this is how I have to play,” said Lundqvist.
Though the Rangers had only four shots in the middle stanza, Zherdev created a pair of excellent scoring chances himself. The better of those two came at 8:02 off a give-and-go with Dubinsky where Zherdev drove to the net and was robbed by Elliott, who made a terrific pad save.
Holding that 1-0 lead, the Rangers headed into the third period and nearly doubled their advantage just one minute into the final session. After a takeaway, Prucha skated in on a breakaway and fired a low forehand shot on goal that was denied by Elliott.
Thwarted that time, the Rangers were able to finally break through again four minutes later on Korpikoski’s clutch score which, coupled with Lundqvist’s strong play in goal, sealed a big road win for the Blueshirts.
“What we’ve done lately has been real good,” noted Renney. “We’ve been disciplined. We’ve paid attention to our game plan in terms of how we have to play. And tonight was another example of that.”
The traveling road show continues for the Rangers on Tuesday night when they skate at Nassau Coliseum against the Islanders and then again on Friday when they face the Blackhawks in Chicago. The five-game road swing comes to an end a week from Sunday in Pittsburgh with an important divisional tilt against the Penguins.
|Brandon Dubinsky (6) ASST: Lauri Korpikoski (3), Petr Prucha (3)|
1 - 0 NYR
|Lauri Korpikoski (2) ASST: Nikolay Zherdev (25), Dmitri Kalinin (8)|
2 - 0 NYR
|Chris Drury Hooking against Daniel Alfredsson|
|Dmitri Kalinin Holding against Antoine Vermette|
|Brendan Bell Interference against Ryan Callahan|
|Marc Staal Roughing against Chris Neil|
|Chris Neil Roughing against Marc Staal|
|Chris Neil Roughing against Marc Staal|
|Markus Naslund Hi-sticking against Mike Fisher|
|Nick Foligno Cross checking against Markus Naslund|
|Markus Naslund Unsportsmanlike conduct|
|Jason Spezza Hooking against Chris Drury|
|SA: 33||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 33||EV: 25 - 25|
|PIM: 0||PP: 7 - 7|
|SV%: 1.000||SH: 1 - 1|
|SA: 27||TOI: 58:00|
|Saves: 25||EV: 24 - 26|
|PIM: 0||PP: 1 - 1|
|SV%: .926||SH: 0 - 0|