by Todd Anderson
Ottawa Senators head coach Bryan Murray is pleased with the improved play from two of his top defencemen during last night's 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the New York Rangers. Down 2-0 after 20 minutes, the Senators stormed back to win, and the contributions from defencemen Wade Redden and Andrej Meszaros were a big reason why.
"I just made a comment last night to Wade and (Meszaros) that as a pair they're real important to us," Murray said after practice today. "They were on for the first two goals (against the Senators) in the game, and it had a little bit to do with just competing for the puck. After I jumped on them a little bit in between periods, I thought they played much better, with more emotion, and not only because (Meszaros) scored, but I thought they became more forceful as a pair. We need that from them down the stretch and in the playoffs."
Meszaros ended a 21-game scoring drought by recording his seventh goal of the season in the third period. The goal stood up as the game-winner. Murray says he's impressed with how the duo responded to his message.
"Just get involved in the game," Murray recalls saying to the defencemen last night. "Maybe that's called emotion. Be physical when you can be. Don't be afraid to carry the puck. Just be involved in the game more."
Meszaros says he can draw some confidence from last night's goal.
"After 21 games, why not?" he said. "It's a good feeling. It was a huge win for us, that's the main thing. (Murray) said some words to us after the first period, and it was good for us to play better.
"I'm trying to hit people every chance I can and be more aggressive in front of our net. Just being more involved in the play is important offensively and defensively. I just have to be more consistent."
Murray was pleased with how the team closed out last night's match.
"I thought it was a real determined second and third period. In the second, I thought we really came out with energy. We played hard and forceful and were able to tie it up and we got a play in the third period that won the game for us. It's two points that we needed."
Murray says games like last night will help his team prepare for the playoffs.
"I think playing good teams that are desperate brings a level of competition out that you need," Murray says. "I think the Rangers came out as a desperate hockey team. They were on a good roll. They hadn't given out much and they were really playing hard, the whole group of them. We had to match that and that was good for us."