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Lundqvist, Penalty Kill Leads Rangers to 3-0 Win Over Ottawa

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

The Rangers, on the strength of their penalty kill, edged the Ottawa Senators, 3-0, Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.

Kevin Hayes, Michael Grabner and Mika Zibanejad scored while Henrik Lundqvist built off his strong performance Friday night in Columbus, though this time he was on the right side of the decision, and stopped all 20 shots he faced for his second shutout of the season.

With a 2-0 lead midway through the third and after killing a pair of penalties over the first two periods, New York's penalty kill was relied on again to kill a five-minute major assessed to Brendan Smith, who was also ejected from the game following a hit to Mark Borowiecki 7:32 into the third period.

Smith hit Borowiecki while the two were chasing down a loose puck in the Rangers' zone, and the hit sent Borowiecki crashing into the corner boards. He remained down for several minutes and did not return.

"When I looked at the replay, I think it was sort of an accident," coach Alain Vigneault said of the hit. "Both guys were coming as they near the boards and both are making contact. It seemed to me Smitty's helmet may have hit part of his head and that's why he probably lost balance there. It just looked like more of an unfortunate hockey accident than anything else." 

Six of the Rangers' season-high 27 blocked shots came on the ensuing penalty kill, which allowed just two pucks to reach Lundqvist. In total, New York allowed just three shots on goal in nine minutes of shorthanded time.

"We talked about it before. They're good on getting through those shots," said Zibanejad, who finished the night with 1:54 of ice time on the penalty kill. "It's not heavy, heavy shots but they get through and create some chaos in front. I think we did a good job to be in the way and help Hank out. Our PK was really good and a big part of our win tonight."

Video: OTT@NYR: Hayes opens scoring with wicked wrister

Hayes broke a scoreless tie 4:46 into the second period when he fired a wrist shot over Craig Anderson's shoulder for his fifth goal of the season.

New York added some insurance when Grabner deflected a Marc Staal shot from the point that gave the Blueshirts a 2-0 lead 4:52 into the third period. The goal was Grabner's ninth of the season.

Zibanejad added his 10th of the season with an empty-net goal at 17:31 of the third.

Video: OTT@NYR: Lundqvist reaches up to deny Hoffman

Lundqvist, who made his ninth straight start, has now allowed two goals or fewer in four of his last five appearances, and has a 2.12 GAA and a .937 SV%. Like his teammates, he credited the strong penalty kill - most notably during the five-minute major - for the two points.

"The key to tonight was our penalty kill," he said. "We talked about it going into this game. I think the last couple of weeks we've been doing a really good job and tonight the focus was there and the determination was there to really kill off every power play. It set the tone in the first with some big kills. It was the difference tonight I think, not letting them have a goal there and kind of change the momentum of the game, so it was huge for us."

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