Senators Keep Playoff Hopes Alive, Beat Rangers 3-0
A recap of tonight's game between the Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers.
The Senators got off to another slow start tonight as the Rangers dominating possession for the first part of the period. Ottawa got a chance when they were awarded the first power play of the game, but some nice passing didn't result in a goal. The Sens appeared to take the lead when a Patrick Wiercioch shot from the point got by Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Unfortunately for the Senators, the goal was waived off immediately because Mika Zibanejad interfered with the Ranger goalie. It was an unpopular call with Sens fans because of the minimal contact that was made and because contact occurred at the edge of the crease. However, I think it the right call to waive off the goal - Zibanejad wasn't pushed into Lundqvist and did make contact before the puck went in. Where I disagree with the official is Zibanejad being assessed a goalie interference minor on the play. The right call would have been to waive the goal off for incidental contact - a call that should happen a lot more in the NHL. After the initial contact was made, Zibanejad lost his balance and fell on Lundqvist's knee. The Ranger goalie was in considerable pain but was able to shake it off and stay in the game. Fortunately for the Senators, they were able to kill off the New York man-advantage. The period finished without a goal, shots 9-6 in favour of the Rangers.
Ottawa got off to a better start in the second, holding the Rangers to just one shot in the first half of the period. Zibanejad wasn't deterred by his first period infraction and was positioned on Lundqvist's doorstep for some good chances by his line in the frame. New York pushed back midway through the period. Ottawa took a penalty for too many men, but the Sens managed to hold off the Rangers. Late in the period, Andrew Hammond stumbled and fell moving cross crease to cover a Ranger feed to a wide open Kevin Hayes. With Hayes looking at an open cage, somehow Hammond made a terrific save. Less than a minute later the Senators broke the stalemate on a nice breakout play from Erik Karlsson and Kyle Turris. Turris fed Stone behind the Ranger net, who made a nice power move and stepped around the New York defender, sending a pass to Clarke MacArthur in the slot, whose one-timer beat Lundqvist top shelf. Just over a minute later, an Eric Gryba point shot was deflected by MacArthur and tipped-in by Turris for a quick 2-0 lead. The period ended with the Senators ahead. Shots 8-5 in favour of the Senators.
The third period started with the Rangers pushing back and controlling much of the play. As the period wore on though, the Senators had a couple impressive flurries against Lundqvist, including a 30 second sequence where he stopped half a dozen shots from close range. The Rangers pulled their goalie with about three minutes left in the period, but Jean-Gabriel Pageau was able to complete the victory with an empty net goal. While the Rangers controlled the play for long stretches of the game, it was a great road victory and team effort for the Senators against the newly-minted Presidents' Trophy-winning Rangers. Shots 27-26 in favour of the Senators.
Sens Heroes: Clarke MacArthur, Kyle Turris, Mark Stone
Responsible for both Senators goals, this line put in another strong effort tonight. Great offensive pressure from the trio and several nice defensive plays, especially from Stone and Turris. They're not getting enough credit for all they've done during this run, they've been terrific since MacArthur's return.
Sens Hero: Andrew Hammond
Not the most work he's seen in a game nor the most difficult night he's had in a Sens uniform, but he made one incredible (if lucky) save and kept his team in it when the Rangers upped the pressure for his third shutout of the season. Not bad at all.
Honourable Mention: Eric Gryba
Gryba's been one of the Senators weakest links during the current run, but tonight he was better than usual. Yes, he made a few mistakes but he also made a few nice defensive plays, including a goal-saving stick check. Add to that an assist and it's a pretty good night for the big guy.
Sens Killer: Henrik Lundqvist
Didn't have much of a chance on either Sens goal and provided more than a few examples of why he's considered one of the best goaltenders in the league.
Shot chart via ESPN:
Game Flow via Natural Stat Trick: