Ben Bishop stopped 24 shots for his first shutout of the season as the Senators beat the Rangers 3-0 on Thursday night for their fourth consecutive victory.
Andre Benoit scored late in the second period to put Ottawa ahead to stay, Guillaume Latendresse beat Henrik Lundqvist with 7:44 left in regulation and Colin Greening hit the empty net with 2:02 remaining to wrap up the Senators' fifth consecutive victory against the Rangers.
"It's nice when you get the win, especially against a good team like that which has a lot of good players," Bishop said after his fourth consecutive victory. "I thought the guys in front of me played unbelievable and they kept a lot of their shots to the outside and also scored a couple of goals.
Bishop outplayed Lundqvist, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, who turned away 26 shots. Lundqvist is just 3-5-1 in his last nine games -- and perplexed by his team's continuing struggles.
"I don't know what to say," Lundqvist said. "I have a few thoughts but I don't think it's going to help our group right now. Bottom line is, it's not good enough and we're not going to make [the playoffs] if …"
The goaltender let his thought trail off before continuing.
"We need everybody right now; we need top plays and smart plays for 60 minutes," he said. "We're playing teams that are working really hard and we have to match it. If we're not matching it, we're not going to win."
The Senators, despite missing Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and starting goaltender Craig Anderson, improved to 19-9-6 and are fifth in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers (16-14-3) are tied for the final playoff berth with the Islanders at 35 points, though the Rangers have a game in hand.
After a defense-oriented first few minutes, the Rangers nearly took the lead midway through the first period when Derek Stepan's pass from behind the Ottawa net found Rick Nash, who backhanded the puck across the high slot to Carl Hagelin. But Hagelin fired wide from just inside the left circle.
New York got another great opportunity when Patrick Wiercioch turned the puck over in the right corner to New York's Kris Newbury, who was skating up the slot. But Bishop got his pad on Newbury's wrister and did the same to Ryan Callahan's wrist shot after the Rangers' captain picked off Eric Condra's attempted clear.
Ottawa's best chance in the first came late in the period when Kyle Turris passed across the offensive zone to Eric Gryba, but the rookie defenseman's wrist shot from inside the right circle wound up in Lundqvist's glove.
The Senators had a 2-on-1 chance early in the second period, but Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh broke up Jacob Silfverberg's pass. Lundqvist sprawled across the crease near the 12-minute mark to keep Condra from burying a rebound.
The Senators finally broke through with 48.8 seconds left in the period. With Anton Stralman off for tripping Mike Hoffman, Mika Zibanejad passed to Benoit, who one-timed a blast from the blue line through traffic and past Lundqvist for his second of the season.
"It was a big goal," coach Paul MacLean said. "I thought they went out and did an outstanding job -- Zibanejad, Silfverberg, [Chris] Neil -- shooting pucks and getting it back to Benoit. I thought they put a determined, deliberate effort."
Lundqvist also said the late power-play goal was a turning point.
"It was such a big goal in the game and it's so important for us to get it done on the PK and we're not," he said.
"We tried to get out of the period with a tie game and instead they get that one."
McDonagh had a great chance to tie the game early in the third period when McDonagh was left open in the left circle with plenty of net to shoot at and Bishop out of position. But the 6-foot-7 goaltender dove across the net to make the save with his blocker.
"I realized I was in big trouble," Bishop said. "I thought [McDonagh] maybe had that short side and at the last second, I just dove over there and got a piece of it."
Latendresse gave Ottawa some breathing room when he finished off a feed from Zibanejad for his fourth goal in six games. Zibanejad has five helpers during a four-game assist streak.
The line of Latendresse, Zibanejad and Silfverberg has been paying offensive dividends for the Senators. Silfverberg also had an assist on Latendresse's goal, giving him one goal and two helpers in his last three games. However, Latendresse knows the trio's role isn't just about putting pucks in the net.
"I think [Zibanejad and Silfverberg] are so talented," Latendresse said. "For my part, I just go to the net and make sure I get open. They're going to find me; they're going to work. I want those guys to carry the puck. It's not my job to carry it. It's like I told them, ‘We had that goal, but [the Rangers] had a good shift against us.' But we stayed in our position, we got the puck. The Rangers put pressure, so their defense was down [the ice]. We got a 3-on-2 and we put it in. But that all started with [a good defensive play.] I want to be sure that we're not giving anything to the other team."
With the Rangers barely clinging to the final playoff berth in the East, coach John Tortorella admitted that the loss on Thursday was aggravating.
"It didn't help," Tortorella said. "Our power play had some looks in the third period; I thought our game was better in the third. I just [didn't] like our [first] 40 minutes. I'm a little bit frustrated after the way we played against [the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday], and just not generating any offense until the third period. At this time of year, that's why you lose. It's just not good enough."
|Eric Gryba Slashing against Carl Hagelin|
|Roman Hamrlik Hooking against Jakob Silfverberg|
|Patrick Wiercioch Interference against Ryan Callahan|
|Anton Stralman Tripping against Mike Hoffman|
|Jakob Silfverberg Hooking against Ryan Callahan|
|Erik Condra Hi-sticking against Ryan Callahan|