|NYR||0||4||0||(0 - 0)||4|
|OTT||1||0||0||(0 - 0)||1|
• PHOTO GALLERY
• RANGERS GAME CENTER
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
The Rangers returned from the Olympic break and picked right up where they left off 16 days ago, winning their third straight game, an impressive 4-1 decision over the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place on Tuesday evening.
Playing without leading scorer Marian Gaborik, who sat out with a lower body injury, and smooth-skating rookie defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who is still day-to-day as he tries to return from a nasty skate laceration on his torso, the Rangers put forth a strong effort that featured a four-goal second period.
Ryan Callahan scored twice for the visitors, while Sean Avery had a goal and an assist, and Erik Christensen recorded a pair of assists. Henrik Lundqvist celebrated his 28th birthday by turning aside 24 shots for his 26th victory of the season.
“We talked about it before the game, it’s one game at a time in a 20-game season,” Rangers head coach John Tortorella said. “We have to get a mindset of grinding, playing defense first. And I thought we did a really good job of that. Our offense came off of that.”
After playing a relatively strong first period -- albeit one in which they exited the ice trailing 1-0 after 20 minutes of play -- the Rangers exploded for four goals in the second period to secure a 4-1 advantage through 40 minutes.
Callahan, the U.S. Olympian who played an extremely physical first period, pulled the Rangers even just 22 seconds into the middle period with a simply gorgeous one-on-one move that turned Ottawa defenseman Matt Carkner inside-out. Skating on the left wing, Callahan froze Carkner, skated swiftly past the defenseman, and then finished with a brilliantly-placed roofed shot into the top of the net.
“When I jumped out on the ice tonight I was still skating and competing at that (Olympic) level,” said Callahan. “I think that’s one of the biggest things I tried to bring back is not to have that sudden letdown or where you don’t keep your speed up, or your game up. I think that’s a big reason why I was successful tonight.”
Interestingly, the Rangers did not record another shot on goal until 11 minutes later when Callahan, with his back to the net, spun a tricky backhand shot at Sens goalie Brian Elliott.
Though not peppering Elliott at one end of the ice, the Rangers also were stout defensively at the other, with Lundqvist facing only four shots over the same period of time.
“I thought we stayed with it, stayed aggressive on the forecheck,” said Tortorella. “It was that way the entire game, a full 60 minutes because I liked out first period, too.”
However when the shots started coming for the Rangers later in the period, so did the goals. The Rangers drove Elliott from the match by scoring three goals on four shots in a span of 2:02 beginning with Brandon Dubinsky’s 14th goal at 15:45.
Dubinsky made a slick stop-and-go move on left wing, letting teammates Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust drive to the net and screen Elliott. Dubinsky timed his left-circle slap shot perfectly, as Elliott could not react in time with two big Rangers skating in front of him, and the visitors grabbed a 2-1 lead.
Callahan netted his second of the game, and 17th of the season, at 16:56 to give the Rangers a two-goal lead. Avery, who was at his aggressive and agitating best all night long, took a tricky shot from the slot which Elliott stopped. Callahan, though, swooped in to corral the rebound and send a bad-angle backhand shot into the cage for a 3-1 Rangers lead.
“When you score big goals like that, that’s how we get more confident,” said Lundqvist. “We played simple and disciplined and patient, and it paid off.”
Fifty seconds later, Avery further silenced the stunned Scotiabank Place crowd by driving to the net to convert a pretty centering pass from Enver Lisin for his eighth goal of the season, and second point of the night.
As Avery dropped to a knee and pumped his right arm in celebration, Elliott skated to the Sens bench to be replaced in goal by Pascal Leclaire. Elliott, who was presented the Molson Cup as Ottawa’s Player of the Month for February prior to the game, allowed four goals on 16 shots in total, four on seven shots in the second period alone.
Ottawa, which had won 14 of its last 16 games prior to the Olympic break, scored on its first shot of the game. Milan Michalek accepted a pass from Jason Spezza on right wing during a 3-on-2 odd-man rush and buried a one-timer for his 21st goal just 3:51 into the contest.
“I didn’t feel that good the first half of the game,” said Lundqvist. “I had new pads and I just felt a little stiff, but I worked myself back into the game and the second half felt pretty good. But it helped, too, how we played, so solid in our own end.”
The Rangers, though, regrouped quickly and withstood some very physical play by the rugged and talented Senators. By time the first period had ended, the Rangers had outshot Ottawa 9-5 and were on the verge of taking the game over with a four-goal outburst in the second period.
With the valuable two points they earned on Tuesday putting them to the brink of the Eastern Conference’s top eight – one point behind Montreal with games in hand -- the Rangers return to Madison Square Garden to host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday evening, seeking to break back into the playoff picture for good.
|Milan Michalek (21) ASST: Jason Spezza (19), Daniel Alfredsson (33)|
1 - 0 OTT
|Ryan Callahan (16) ASST: Erik Christensen (9)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Brandon Dubinsky (14) ASST: Brandon Prust (6)|
2 - 1 NYR
|Ryan Callahan (17) ASST: Sean Avery (16), Erik Christensen (10)|
3 - 1 NYR
|Sean Avery (8) ASST: Enver Lisin (8), Wade Redden (9)|
4 - 1 NYR
|Alex Kovalev Hooking against Wade Redden|
|Marc Staal Hooking against Matt Cullen|
|Michal Rozsival Interference against Jason Spezza|
|Sean Avery Misconduct|
|Sean Avery Roughing against Matt Cullen|
|SA: 25||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 24||EV: 21 - 22|
|PIM: 0||PP: 3 - 3|
|SV%: .960||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 16||TOI: 37:46|
|Saves: 12||EV: 10 - 14|
|PIM: 0||PP: 2 - 2|
|SV%: .750||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 9||TOI: 22:14|
|Saves: 9||EV: 8 - 8|
|PIM: 0||PP: 0 - 0|
|SV%: 1.000||SH: 1 - 1|