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Facing Rangers just another test for Senators

by Dave Lozo
NEW YORK -- The Ottawa Senators could look at Thursday night's game against the New York Rangers, who lead the NHL in points with 58 points, as a chance to see how they match up with the best team in the League.

Instead, the streaking Senators are looking at the bigger picture.

The Senators are coming off a 5-1 win in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. It marked the start of a stretch of nine of 10 away from Scotiabank Place. That rough road swing includes stops in Toronto, San Jose and Boston.

"This trip is a measuring stick for us," Ottawa's Jason Spezza said. "This is a real tough trip, and we're just trying to be real short-sighted with how we approach it, because it can be a real daunting task if you look at the big picture. It's definitely a big game for us, but we're kind of using the whole trip as the test."

Ottawa is 8-1-2 in its last 11 games, which happen to coincide with the arrival of Kyle Turris in a trade with the Phoenix Coyotes. He has 1 goal and 7 assists in that stretch.

The plan against the Rangers is a familiar one -- disrupt the vision of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who is a strong candidate for the Vezina Trophy through the first half of the season.

"We know they're going to come out hard," Spezza said. "Torts has them playing a real fast-paced game. We try to play a similar style. Just be patient. We'll get chances and Hank will make saves, but you have to stick with it and try to get a lot of traffic around him -- be relentless around the net. Really bear down on your good opportunities. He's such a good goaltender that he's not going to give you too many free ones."

Senators coach Paul MacLean admits the Rangers will be a challenge for his team, which is one of the few to win in Madison Square Garden as a visitor this season -- the Rangers are 12-3-2 on home ice and suffered a 5-4 shootout loss to Ottawa in their home opener in late October.

"They're the best team in the League," MacLean said. "Their goalie's played real well. Their team play has been good. It's going to be a real test for us. Like every night, it's a test of our consistency to see if we can come back and do it again. "

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo


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