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Stepan helps Rangers stop Senators' point streak

by Sean Farrell

OTTAWA -- Derek Stepan found his scoring touch and the New York Rangers took advantage of a pair of glaring turnovers by Ottawa Senators defensemen to secure a win in their only true road game in a four-week stretch.

Stepan scored with 11.5 seconds left in the second period after assisting on goals by Brad Richards and Rick Nash to lead the Rangers to a 4-1 victory Saturday.

Cam Talbot made 29 saves and Mats Zuccarello scored for New York, which defeated the Detroit Red Wings 1-0 Thursday. The Rangers are 10-3-1 in their past 14 games.

"I thought we played a real smart road game," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "We managed the puck well. We did a real good job in the first period of eliminating any transition play that they might have. They're a real good speed team and they've got great transition with a couple of their [defensemen] that join the rush, so by taking that away I think enabled us to spend a little bit more time in their end and we were able to capitalize on a couple of opportunities."

Marc Methot scored and Craig Anderson stopped 27 shots for Ottawa, which lost in regulation for the first time since Dec. 27. The Senators were 6-0-2 in their previous eight games since a 5-0 road loss to the Boston Bruins.

Nash scored his 12th goal at 12:45 of the second period to put the Rangers up 2-1. Stepan, who had one assist in his previous six games, got his third point when he took advantage of a turnover by Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson to make it 3-1.

"He's a big part of our offense, and for his confidence I'm hoping that's going to be really good tonight," Vigneault said of Stepan. "He's been working real hard."

Stepan snapped a shot past Anderson for his first goal in 14 games after he pounced on a blind backhand pass from behind the net by Karlsson.

"It's a big relief," Stepan said. "It's something that, I don't know, for whatever reason throughout a year you go into these little dips and gullies and you have to find a way to just get through it."

Zuccarello increased the lead to 4-1 with 3:10 to go in the third when he took advantage of a turnover by Senators defenseman Chris Phillips in the neutral zone to score unassisted.

"It happens to all of us at least once in a while, and unfortunately it happened a few times tonight," Methot said.

New York, which begins a three-game homestand Sunday against the Washington Capitals, made its sole road appearance in the midst of playing seven of eight games at Madison Square Garden leading up to a pair of 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series games at Yankee Stadium.

The Rangers will be the visiting team for the Jan. 26 game against the New Jersey Devils and the Jan. 29 game against the New York Islanders.

Ottawa begins a four-game road trip Tuesday in Washington.

Methot drove a slap shot past Talbot from the left side to give Ottawa a 1-0 lead at 3:37 of the first period. It was the defenseman's fourth goal of the season.

Richards drew the Rangers even at 1-1 at 9:50 with his 13th goal during a 5-on-3 advantage.

"We seemed to come out of the gate pretty good, come out with the lead, and then we got put on our heels a little bit," Anderson said. "It's one of those things where, I'm not sure what it is, but you've got to find a way to play. It doesn't matter what time the game is, 2 o'clock, 5 o'clock, 7 o'clock; the puck drops, the puck drops. You've got to have that intensity right from the get-go."

Senators right wing Chris Neil made his presence felt in his first game since Dec. 30. Neil, who missed six games with a lower-body injury, followed up Ottawa center Zack Smith's hit on Dominic Moore in front of the Senators bench with a head-on check on the Rangers forward. Moore drew a roughing penalty after he and teammate Daniel Carcillo confronted Neil after the hit.

Rangers left wing Carl Hagelin was struck above the left knee by Richards' slap shot dump-in attempt at 8:15 of the third period. Hagelin was in pain on the bench but returned to the game.

Vigneault was asked if there were any lingering issues with Hagelin as a result of the accident.

"Other than being really upset at [Brad], I don't know of any other ones," Vigneault said.

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