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Big line carries Rangers to 3-2 win in Ottawa

by Erin Nicks
KANATA, Ont. -- The Ottawa Senators had no answers for the line of Marian Gaborik, Derek Stepan and Artem Anisimov.

Gaborik had two goals -- including the game-winner -- while Stepan had a goal and two assists and  Anisimov contributed a pair of helpers, giving the line all seven of New York's points in Wednesday night's 3-2 victory against the Ottawa Senators.

It was the fifth consecutive win for the Rangers (8-3-3), who have gotten 19 points from their top line in the last three games.

"I think there's a (sense of chemistry)," said Gaborik, who started the season on a line with free-agent acquisition Brad Richards but has flourished since being moved.  "When there's a chance when Stepan or (Anisimov) can make a play, it's great. Step made a nice fake on the (second goal) and he just dished to me and I had an open net. As long as we keep working and keep forechecking, things are happening."

Anisimov agreed with his linemate.

"I think we have high confidence right now," he said.  "We need to grow this confidence every game to play even better as a line. We need to keep an eye on the back of each other. If someone makes a mistake let's come back and go hard for him."

Milan Michalek and Nick Foligno scored for the Senators, who outshot the Rangers 31-19. But Henrik Lundqvist stopped 29 shots to win his seventh consecutive game at Scotiabank Place.

"We didn't shoot as much, but I felt the game was pretty even," Lundqvist said.  "It wasn't like (Ottawa) was controlling the game. We just talked about putting more pucks in the net in the second half. We knew we had to get going after (the Michalek goal). There was no other way for anything to happen and the way we were spun, it was perfect. I think they lost their focus after the first goal and we definitely made them pay."

It was the teams' first meeting since Ottawa rallied from a 4-1 third-period deficit for a 5-4 shootout win in New York on Oct. 29. But the teams' fortunes haven't been the same since that date. The Rangers are 5-0-0, while the Senators -- who lost captain Daniel Alfredsson in New York due to a head injury -- beat Toronto the next day but have gone 0-3-1 since then to fall to 7-8-1.

"The lack of execution and the inefficiency in our own zone led to great opportunities for them," Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said. "Those are things that are going to come back and haunt you. We need to stress the focus for the whole period.  That's all we can do is talk about it, and make sure we play for the whole game.  We have to continue to work at it and not feel sorry for ourselves."

Ottawa opened the scoring 8:39 into the second period when Erik Karlsson found Michalek, who wired a high wrister past Lundqvist for his 10th of the season. Jason Spezza also had an assist on the goal, breaking his four-game scoreless streak.

The Rangers responded 42 seconds later, when a blind backhand pass by Sergei Gonchar was scooped up by Stepan. He fed Gaborik, who beat Anderson to the glove side.

New York took the lead just over two minutes later, when Anisimov capitalized on a giveaway by David Rundblad. A scramble ensued in front of Anderson's net, and Anisimov's rebound was picked up by Stepan, who wristed it over a prone Anderson at 11:38.

After Ottawa controlled the puck in the Rangers' zone for a couple of minutes, Jared Cowen was caught punching at the left point and Stepan spring Gaborik on a 2-on-1 break. Gaborik carried down the left side unimpeded and got within 10 feet of Anderson before zipping a quick shot over his shoulder at 8:30 for a 3-1 lead.

Just 78 seconds later, the Senators got within a goal when Stephane Da Costa's pass from the right boards found Foligno racing down the slot for a wrist shot past Lundqvist.

Ottawa had 21 giveaways in Wednesday's loss, and Spezza said the team has to put a stop to the spate of errors.

"Mistakes are really costing us right now," he said. "We're finding ways to lose games, rather than finding ways to win."
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