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Another Brodeur gets shutout as Sens blanks Rangers

by Dave Lozo

NEW YORK -- While it didn't carry the same cachet as the Brodeur-Lundqvist matchup at Madison Square Garden two nights earlier, there was yet another duel at MSG between goaltenders with those names Thursday night.

And for the second game in a row, Brodeur won.

Ottawa Senators rookie goaltender Mike Brodeur, called up hours before the game on an emergency basis to make just his second NHL start, matched New York's Henrik Lundqvist save for save before defenseman Chris Campoli broke a scoreless tie with 74 seconds left in regulation to help give the Senators a hard-fought 2-0 victory.

Chris Kelly tacked on an empty-netter with 11 seconds left as the Senators ended a five-game losing streak.

Lundqvist, who came up short in an epic duel with New Jersey's Martin Brodeur on Tuesday night, was the victim of the Rangers' offensive struggles again. After making 45 saves in the shootout loss to the Devils, he stopped 32 shots against the Senators in another tough-luck loss.

The Rangers have gone 144:23 without a goal.

Mike Brodeur, who says he's a "distant cousin" of his New Jersey namesake, was called up from AHL Binghamton after starting goaltender Pascal Leclaire suffered a slight concussion during the morning skate. Brodeur was outstanding, stopping 32 shots to run his record in the NHL to 2-0-0.

"Mike was outstanding. I think that was the biggest difference tonight," Senators coach Cory Clouston said. "Full credit to Mike. When we made a couple mistakes, Brodeur was there for us."

In his only other NHL game, Brodeur beat the Minnesota Wild and Niklas Backstrom 4-1. He stopped 22 shots in that game and now has wins against Backstrom and Lundqvist, who will represent Sweden and Finland, respectively, at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Can Brodeur imagine a better start to his career?

"Definitely not," he said. "They've gone my way and I just have to keep rolling."

"He's taken advantage of the opportunities," Clouston said. "He's played very well, he's played very solid. It's a long time coming for him. He's paid his dues. He's worked hard through the minors, through the (ECHL) and up through the American League. Mike should be proud of himself, and we need him to continue to play like that."

To say Brodeur has bounced around the minor leagues would be an understatement.

He has played for eight minor-league teams since 2003-04; four AHL squads (Norfolk Admirals, Rockford IceHogs, Rochester Americans and Binghamton Senators) and four ECHL franchises (Greenville Grrrowl, Augusta Lynx, Toledo Storm, Pensacola Ice Pilots).

The 26-year-old noticed the difference between playing there and at MSG.

"It was a great atmosphere, a great game, back and forth," Brodeur said. "Lundqvist made some big saves and we had some great chances. The guys did a great job in front of me, made my job easy.

"I think I've hopped around with about eight minor-league teams before I got here, had a few injury issues. It's a little bit of adversity to me, which has helped my game and helped my confidence so when I come in I don't have to think about it as much."

Brodeur's toughest test of the night came from the Rangers' deadliest scorer -- Marian Gaborik.

About six minutes into the second period, Ottawa's Ryan Shannon fumbled the puck at the blue line, and Gaborik picked it up and took off on a breakaway. There was some back pressure from defenseman Anton Volchenkov, but Gaborik was still able to get off a shot that Brodeur answered with his right pad.

"We had a lot of pressure on him so I knew he wasn't going to have a lot of room to do much," Brodeur said of Gaborik's opportunity. "So I tried to take the lower part of the net away from him and that worked for me."

That would be as close as the Rangers would come to scoring against Brodeur. Ryan Callahan had a good chance from the slot early in the second period, but his wrist shot missed the net.

After playing an outstanding game against the Devils on Tuesday, the Rangers clearly weren't ready to bring that same level of play to the rink against the Senators. Ottawa had the better of the play throughout the first period, so much so that Rangers coach John Tortorella used a timeout about five minutes into the game.

The tactic didn't work.

"No excuses. I don't understand why we're not ready, but we have to start getting prepared to play games," Callahan said. "We wanted to make sure there was no letdown after the Jersey game, and tonight we come out and have a start like that. I don't know what the explanation is but it definitely has to change.

"I know personally it definitely makes me angry. You can't have a start like that, because then you have another game where you don't put up a goal. To have Hank play like that, it's frustrating for us, but for Hank too. We let him down. We have to find a way to start putting pucks in the net."

Still the Rangers were 1:14 away from salvaging a point for the second game in a row, but some great work from Alex Kovalev and a defensive lapse by Gaborik set up Campoli's winner.

Kovalev took over in the Rangers' end, controlling the puck as he circled the zone in search of an opening. Eventually he saw Campoli slip behind Gaborik and fed him with a pass in the slot. He beat a screened Lundqvist to the stick side and left the Rangers shaking their heads in frustration.

"It was my guy," Gaborik said of his defensive responsibility for Campoli. "It was my mistake and I should've been right there. It cost us the game."

Tortorella said his team got what it deserved.

"We were outworked," he said. "That team wanted to play harder than we did tonight. They deserve what they got and we deserve what we got. It is funny what happens. It is simple game of work habit and they simply worked harder."

Lundqvist, who is 0-1-1 in his last two games despite allowing just one goal, echoed the frustrated words of everyone else in the Rangers' locker room.

"I think it is frustrating for everybody because we worked pretty hard and played pretty solid defensively," he said. "Again, four goals in four games is not going to win us games. When you don't score, if you make one bad mistake, it will cost you the game."

The margin for error was slim because of Brodeur, a career minor-leaguer who has probably made more bus trips than Ralph Kramden. How did the Calgary native find out he'd be thrust into an Eastern Conference battle with the Rangers?

"I was in the middle of a shootout in practice and coach pulled me off the ice and said, 'You're going to New York,' " the 26-year-old said. "That's how I got the news today. They had a Town Car pick me up in Binghamton."

Pretty fitting that he arrived in New York the same way he'd leave it - in style.

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