By Jim Cerny, BlueshirtsUnited.com
Henrik Lundqvist turned in a brilliant performance in goal, and four different Blueshirts scored, as the Rangers defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-2 in the opening game of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series Thursday night in front of a raucous and appreciative sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden.
Lundqvist made 30 saves on the night, exuding both calm and confidence. He stopped all 13 shots he faced in the opening period when Ottawa often had the better of the scoring chances and territorial play, and had 24 through the first two periods as the Rangers slowly took over momentum of the game.
Ryan Callahan opened the scoring 12:01 into the first period, collecting a rebound of Anton Stralman's point shot before twisting his shot past an out-of-position Craig Anderson.
The Rangers did not double their lead until late in the second period---with Lundqvist and the team's penalty killing unit starring in preserving the 1-0 lead. The Rangers killed off three straight Ottawa power plays in the first and second periods before Marian Gaborik made a string of gorgeous one-on-one moves, finally beating Anderson through the five-hole with 2:36 to play in the middle stanza.
Shortly before the second period ended Brian Boyle scored his first career playoff goal to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead. After Artem Anisimov's strong work in the slot, Boyle collected a loose puck and roofed it stick side past Anderson with 53.8 seconds left to play.
Anisimov earned his second assist of the game on Boyle's goal, and was a strong physical presence throughout the game for the Rangers.
Brad Richards scored his first post-season goal as a Ranger 2:15 into the third period to up the Blueshirts advantage to 4-0. Carl Hagelin made a neat pass out of the corner to Richards by the crease, and the 2004 Stanley Cup winner chipped it past Anderson.
Ottawa snapped Lundqvist's bid for his fourth career playoff shutout at the 10:05 mark of the third when his fellow countryman and friend Daniel Alfredsson scored. The Garden crowd responded with a huge ovation for Lundqvist, who had stopped the first 27 shots he had faced on Thursday night. Erik Condra scored with 2:19 remaining to cut the Rangers lead down to 4-2.
Game Two of this opening round playoff series take splace at Madison Square Garden Saturday night at 7:00 PM.