RANGERS vs. SENATORS, 7 p.m.
Madison Square Garden
MSG Network, 98.7 FM
Filip Chytil was being asked about his superb start to the 2019-20 season, and whether his first two games since his NHL call-up have gone about as well as he could have hoped-
"Yeah," the Rangers' 20-year-old center replied. "Because we won."
So far in 2019-20, Chytil is unfamiliar with anything else. He began the season as a point-per-game player for Hartford - nine points in nine games, of which the Wolf Pack won eight with just one shootout loss. Since his call-up to the Rangers last Monday, Chytil has scored in each of his two games, both tiebreaking goals in Blueshirts wins.
The Rangers will look to make it three in a row on Monday night at Madison Square Garden, when they get a visit from the 3-8-1 Ottawa Senators. In addition to Chytil's goals back-to-back games, Ryan Strome brings a career-high six-game points streak into Monday's game, while Artemi Panarin has points in four straight and 11 different Rangers have scored goals in the last four games. Alexandar Georgiev, meanwhile, will take his third straight start after stopping 61 of 63 shots in winning the last two.
In other words, while the Rangers will play without Mika Zibanejad (upper body) for the third game in a row, players from up and down their lineup have come in to help fill the void for a team that has won three of its last four and has points in four of five (3-1-1).
"It's really been a group effort," David Quinn said after the Rangers' morning skate on Monday. "I think every guy has elevated their game to a level that they need to in order for us to have success, not only individually but collectively. And you see the results."
An indispensable part of that effort has been Chris Kreider, who has skated on Chytil's left wing the past two games, with Pavel Buchnevich on the right, and has had a big hand in allowing Chytil to hit the ground running since his call-up. Quinn cited Kreider's contributions on Saturday that did not make the scoresheet - including his net drive off a rush that opened up space for Chytil to start the scoring late in the first period - and said his winger "was all over the ice."
"I'll tell you right now that might have been his best game of the year," Quinn said. On Chytil's goal, the Head Coach said, "Kreider makes a great read coming back into our end, we go the other way, and he blows by three Nashville guys. And because of his net drive, Chytil's able to make that great play. So he was all over the ice (Saturday). I thought that was Chris Kreider's best game this year."
By the afternoon's end, Kreider had seen his own three-game points streak snapped, but also his scoring chances continue to pile up: He had Predators goalie Jusse Saros beaten on a second-period breakaway on Saturday but saw his shot spin out off the inside of the left post.
"I don't care, if we're winning hockey games," Kreider said simply. "Just keep winning. Winning's fun.
"That game was a good test of our character," Kreider added. "They came pretty hard early in the third period, basically threw the kitchen sink at us, and you've got to weather that storm, protect the house, and guys did a good job of that."
"That was our first real road test with a chance to win a hockey game," Quinn said. "The third period to me really showed an awful lot about what we're made of right now."
Ottawa's 5-2 loss in Boston on Saturday followed five idle days in its schedule and dropped the Senators to 0-4-1 on the road, the League's only team without a road win this season. Far and away more jarring than the loss was the sight of Senators winger Scott Sabourin, a 27-year-old playing just his 11 NHL game, taken off the ice on a stretcher after a collision with the Bruins' David Backes. Sabourin was knocked unconscious by the collision; the Senators said on Sunday that he had suffered a fractured nose and was due to be released from a Boston hospital.
Bobby Ryan, the 13-year NHL veteran who led the Sens in power-play goals (seven) a season ago, is in line to step in for Sabourin when the Senators play the middle game of a three-in-four-nights road trip. Ottawa will start Anders Nilsson in the first leg of this back-to-back, with a game in Brooklyn tomorrow night; Craig Anderson was torched by Zibanejad, his former teammate, when these teams met in Game 2 of the season, three goals on three shots for Zibanejad's third career hat trick and a 4-1 Ranger win in Ottawa.
Georgiev stopped 31 of 32 shots in that Oct. 5 game, for his first win in his first start of the season. That game also was one of only two this season in which Connor Brown did not have a point for the Senators; the winger, acquired from Toronto on July 1, has six games (2-4--6) during the five-game points streak he brings into the Garden.
With their win in Nashville coming on the heels of a five-game homestand, the Blueshirts now settle back home for four of their next five games on Broadway.
10 Panarin - 16 Strome - 17 Fast
20 Kreider - 72 Chytil - 89 Buchnevich
48 Lemieux - 21 Howden - 24 Kakko
38 Haley - 28 Andersson - 42 Smith
25 Hajek - 8 Trouba
76 Skjei - 77 DeAngelo
55 Lindgren - 23 Fox
7 Tkachuk - 44 Pageau - 10 Duclair
90 Namestnikov - 64 Beaudin - 63 Ennis
13 Paul - 71 Tierney - 28 Brown
89 Boedker - 78 Chlapik - 9 Ryan
72 Chabot - 22 Zaitsev
26 Brannstrom - 81 Hainsey
74 Borowiecki - 2 DeMelo
In their last three wins, the Rangers have outscored opponents 12-4.
The Rangers went 14-3 on faceoffs in the third period Saturday in Nashville, including a 7-1 period from Brett Howden. During the game, the Rangers were 13-2 on own-zone draws.
Ryan Strome has four goals and five assists during his career-high six-game points streak.
The Rangers are 6-0-1 with Ryan Lindgren in the lineup.
The Senators are 2-for-42 (4.8%) on power plays.
Ottawa blueliner Mark Borowiecki, playing in his 334th NHL game on Saturday in Boston, assisted on both Sens goals for his first career multi-point game.
Vlad Namestnikov has four goals in 10 games for Ottawa since his Oct. 7 trade from the Rangers.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Artemi Panarin has a goal and four assists during his four-game points streak, and 12 points (3-9--12) in 11 career games against the Sens, including a goal and an assist in the teams' Oct. 5 matchup in Ottawa.
Anthony Duclair, a third-round pick of the Rangers in 2013, has four goals in his last four games. Duclair will play his 300th career game with his fifth NHL team.