By Jim Cerny, BlueshirtsUnited.com
Craig Anderson bested Henrik Lundqvist in a splendid goaltenders' duel Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, lifting the Ottawa Senators to a 2-0 victory in Game 5, and pushing the Rangers to the brink of elimination in this best-of-seven opening-round playoff series. The Rangers trail 3 games to 2 and must win Monday night in Ottawa to force a decisive Game 7 at The Garden next Thursday.
Anderson made 41 saves, including 15 in a frenetic third period, to earn his second career playoff shutout. Lundqvist stopped 28 of 29 shots before Ottawa finished the game off with an empty net goal in the final seconds of play.
Not only did the Rangers lose the game and home-ice advanatge, they lost their leading goal scorer in the playoffs. Brian Boyle was drilled with high hit to the head in the third period by Ottawa's Chris Neil, played one more shift on a penalty kill, and then was shut down the remainder of the match. Head coach John Tortorella said afterwards that Boyle was "concussed" and "is out" moving forward.
The Senators snagged their first regulation lead of the series when Jason Spezza scored off the rush 9:18 into the opening period. Spezza received a perfect lead pass from rookie Mark Stone--making his NHL debut--on right wing and zipped a shot that beat Lundqvist short side for his first goal of the series. Incredibly, more than 249 minutes of regulation play had been played in this series before Ottawa actually held a lead.
Frustrating for the Rangers was the fact that Ottawa had just killed off a Rangers power play in which both Derek Stepan and Boyle had come close to scoring against Anderson. That was certainly a trend in the first period as the Senators frustrated the Rangers time and again, killing off three consecutive Blueshirt power plays.
The Rangers held a 14-9 shots advantage in the opening period before both teams had glorious chances to score in the second stanza when both teams fired 12 shots on goal without scoring.
Lundqvist sparkled in the second period. Early on he made a sharp right-pad save on Erik Karlsson's slap shot through traffic, and then followed moments later by stoning Spezza from in-tight. Later Lundqvist made another big pad stop on Colin Greening's break-in; and before the period ended he went into the splits to make a clutch save on Milan Michalek's breakaway try.
Anderson was equally as sharp in that second period, in particular on a point-blank rebound try by Brandon Dubinsky after a Dan Girardi bomb from the point.
Spezza scored his second of the night with 55.3 seconds left in the third period by burying a right-wing shot with the Rangers' net empty.