|Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist played a big part in the Blueshirts' nailing down a standings point on Thursday. Lundqvist stopped 29 Ottawa shots over 65 minutes of regulation and overtime.
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By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
On eight separate occasions this season the Rangers have secured a valuable second point in the standings by winning in the overtime shootout.
On Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers were thwarted in their bid for a ninth such victory as the Ottawa Senators surprised the Blueshirts, 2-1.
Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson scored the only goal of the overtime shootout, beating Henrik Lundqvist
with a sharp forehand shot in the fifth round, to hand the Rangers only their third loss in 11 games decided by the shootout this season.
“I didn’t see this one coming,” said Rangers head coach John Tortorella. “We don’t play too many bad games, and we haven’t this year, but this was one.”
The loss snapped the Rangers’ season-high five-game winning streak. However the Blueshirts still earned an important point in the standings by sending the game to overtime on Brandon Prust
’s third-period score. As such, the Rangers now have 85 points which leaves them just two points out of sixth place in the Eastern Conference behind Montreal after the Canadiens were defeated 7-0 by the Bruins on Thursday.
“We stole a point,” said Tortorella. “We haven’t played without energy many times this year. Tonight everybody did. Even in the shootout we didn’t look right. So we take the point, stuff it in our back pockets, and move by this.”
Both Lundqvist and Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson stopped 29 of 30 shots through 65 minutes of play, and both netminders came up especially big during the five-minute overtime period. Lundqvist made a sensational save on Chris Neil’s breakaway out of the penalty box, and Anderson made six saves, including stops on a pair of heavy slap shots from Marian Gaborik
and Marc Staal
|Rangers forward Ruslan Fedotenko takes a pass coming out of the defensive zone on Thursday. Fedotenko had an assist on his team's lone goal, scored by Brandon Prust early in the third period. |
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The two goalies then proceeded to match each other save for save through four rounds of the shootout. In the fifth round, Ryan Callahan
broke his stick attempting his shot, setting the stage for Karlsson to win the game.
“I faced him a lot this summer,” said Lundqvist of his fellow Swede, Karlsson. “He took a good shot right over my pad. It was painful to see. It was just a tough one for us to get going tonight. I don’t know why. It’s disappointing, but we just have to put it behind us and move on.”
Not even the return of Staal---following a two-game absence due to an undisclosed injury -- could get the Rangers going in the first two periods on Thursday. But in the third period Staal made a clutch play to help the Rangers tie the game and, ultimately, secure a vital point in the standings.
Staal accepted a head-man pass from Dan Girardi
in the neutral zone and, despite being hauled down to the ice, he in turn pushed the puck to right wing where Prust skated into the pass. Prust then moved forward and waited patiently before ripping a shot past Anderson to the stick side for his career-high 12th goal at the 2:45 mark of the third period.
“This was one of the harder games to play, one of the harder ones to get up for,” Staal said of facing a Senators team that is last in the Eastern Conference with 65 points. “We know that we have to win and sometimes that plays against you. But we did get a point, and you never know if it’s a big point going down the stretch here.”
|Defenseman Marc Staal returned to the Rangers' lineup after missing two games with an injury and had an assist in his game-high 29:34 of ice time. |
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Staal logged a game-high 29:34 worth of ice time in his return to the lineup on Thursday, firing three shots on goal and earning the primary assist on Prust’s goal. After the game, without revealing what his injury is, Staal said that he “felt fine”.
Over the first two periods of play the Rangers played well defensively, but managed only 14 shots on goal. Beset by turnovers, and often outworked for loose pucks, the Rangers found it very difficult to sustain any pressure whatsoever in the offensive zone.
And in that time Ottawa found a way to score the game-opening goal. Ryan Shannon flew into the slot to convert a Bobby Butler pass from the left-wing boards at 15:21 of the second period to snap a scoreless tie. It was the first goal allowed by Lundqvist in more than 108 minutes of action.
“I thought we didn’t play the game we needed to,” said Callahan. “It was an important game for us. We needed the two points, and we didn’t have the effort we needed. It is a tough one, but we need to put it behind us.”
The Rangers will get exactly that opportunity on Saturday afternoon when they travel to Boston to face a Bruins team that currently sits in third place with 92 points.
“Hopefully, facing a much better team on Saturday, we will come with more energy,” said Lundqvist. “It should be easier to get going against them. It better be, because these games are all so serious for us.”