Both participants in the big story from the last meeting of the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators were absent from this meeting as Wojtek Wolski and Daniel Alfredsson are on the shelf with injuries. With Nikita Filatov back in Binghamton, Zenon Konopka and his moustache drew back into the lineup, as did David Rundblad, whose 2 game exile to the press box comes to an end.
With this being the last home game until Nov 28th, and 9 of the next 10 games on the road, a win is vital for the Ottawa Senators to send them (and their fans) off with a good feeling.
The First Period
Stephane Da Costa had a slick rush into the offensive end, but his backhand went high for the first quality scoring chance. Zenon Konopka and Sean Avery squared off, but after a bunch of dancing around, not many real punches thrown and a Konopka takedown the player were escorted off the ice. Artem Anisimov was sent on a breakaway, but his shot rang off the post. Eric Karlsson donated a turnover to Brad Richards at the Sens blue line, but his partial break was stopped by Anderson who was positioned well. Marion Gaborik with 2 chances in close, but again Anderson was up to the task. Milan Michalek had beat McDonough who stumbled and gave Michalek a clear path to the net but he dropped a pass into traffic to Rundblad that was broken up by the back-checker. It was an entertaining first period, with some chances, some hits, but no goals as the teams head to the dressing room scoreless, with Ottawa outshooting New York 10-4.
The Second Period
Zack Smith treated the puck like it was a hand grenade with the pin pulled when he went on a 2-on-1 and fired about 15 feet wide on a cross-ice shot. Jesse Winchester‘s great cross ice feed to Karlsson sent him alone but Henrik Lundqvist’s glove got in the way. Michalek fanned on a pass across, but his second attempt being a shot almost caught Lundqvist off guard, but he made the save. Jason Spezza had to fight through the linesman going down the boards and threw a pass back through the slot to Michalek who rifled a shot past Lundqvist to put the Senators on top as the midway point of the game approached. All the work to take the lead went for naught as moments later Sergei Gonchar‘s atrocious clearing attempt resulted in a 3 on 2 in close, and Gaborik had 24 square feet to shoot at to even the score and he made no mistake. Another giveaway, this time by Rundblad behind his own net resulted in Derek Stepan‘s go-ahead goal less than 2 minutes later. Anderson had no chance on either NYR goal. Jared Cowen tried to spark his club by taking on a true heavyweight in Andre Deveaux. Cowen held his own and even got the first couple of shots in. Give the rookie credit for taking on the role in this one. The Senators went on the power play shortly thereafter. With Brandon Dubinsky off for holding, Spezza had a good shot from 3o feet away, but Colin Greening‘s tripping penalty negated the power play. On the 4-on-4 a Spezza giveaway resulted in a 3-on-1 and Chris Phillips saved Spezza’s butt by sliding and taking away the cross-crease pass. The second period ended with the Rangers having momentum and the lead, but less than two weeks ago they were in the same situation, and we remember what happened that night. Could it happen again….
The Third Period
An early power play was just what the Senators needed as Steve Eminger was sent off for kneeing. But you have to do something with the man advantages, and the Senators could not, and the opportunity was wasted. Cowen had the best chance in some time for Ottawa but hit the side of the net. A slick play by Anisimov to clear the zone sent Stepan and Gaborik in 2-on-1 against Rundblad. Gaborik carrying it in, fired a snapshot over Anderson’s shoulder, giving the Rangers a two goal cushion. Never saying die, the Senators quickly got back within one as a good breakout results in Da Costa finding Nick Foligno cruising in the slot, and his quick snapshot beat Lundqvist glove side, 1:18 after Gaborik’s goal. With half a period left, a one goal differential made it a game again. However, the time ticked down on the Senators and they really didn’t have another sniff after Foligno’s goal, and the Rangers held on for the 3-2 victory
The Post Game
* * *
SENSHOT’S THREE STARS
3. Artem Anisimov – NYR – 2A
2. Derek Stepan – NYR – 1G, 1A
1. Marian Gaborik – NYR – 2G
Here are the game highlights from NHL.com
WHAT I SAW
Two horrendous giveaways two minutes apart (one by a veteran, one by a rookie), in the second period were the difference in this one as the Senators deserved to be in this one. They didn’t have much urgency in the third period until Gaborik’s goal, and then it was fleeting.
Erik Karlsson has improved his defense 1000% from last year as he has learned his positioning in his own end, and he is approaching the level of all-around defenseman rather than just offensive defenseman. His size limits how effective he can be but his smarts and work ethick make up for deficiencies in size and strength.
Stephane Da Costa played his best game of the season, right from start to finish. He was probably the best player in the third period for Ottawa and good on Paul MacLean for recognizing that and rewarding DaCosta with some last-minute ice time with the big boys. His game is progressing with experience and he is becoming more confident at this level.
It could be a long trip as Ottawa heads out on the road for 6 in a row and 9 of their next 10. A trip through Western Canada is tough and it follows a couple of rivalry games in Buffalo and Toronto. Perhaps some bonding on the road is what the team needs with so many new faces.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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