On Saturday night, Robin Lehner did something that his net mate Craig Anderson could not do – stem the tide. The Ottawa Senators backup netminder turned away 41 New York Rangers’ shots as he led the Sens to a 3-2 win at Madison Square Garden.
The win spoiled the Rangers’ opportunity to clinch a playoff spot, still needing a point to guarantee a booking in the post season dance.
Despite being outplayed and outshot, Ottawa got on the board first over 12 minutes into the opening period. Chris Phillips led the rush and dished to Clarke MacArthur through the neutral zone. With Phillips and Kyle Turris driving the net, MacArthur found Mark Stone trailing the play unchecked, and Stone wristed a shot past Henrik Lundqvist. A couple of minutes after killing off the lone penalty of the first period, Ottawa doubled their lead. Zack Smith won a faceoff to the right of Lundqvist, and Mika Zibanejad swooped in from the side boards, picked up the loose puck, took a couple more strides to the middle of the ice and powered a wrist shot past King Henrik to send the Senators to the room with a 2 goal cushion.
The Rangers finally beat Lehner just past the 5 minute mark of the second, but it wasn’t east. A poor defensive zone faceoff play resulted in no Senators player taking the point man. John Moore‘s shot from the point was tipped in by Mats Zuccarello, while Derick Brassard was standing on top of Lehner, not allowing him to make the save. While Brassard was engaged with Kyle Turris at the time, he didn’t appear to be pushed in, which might lead to a incidental contact call. After some discussion, that call wasn’t made, nor was the play reviewed as Zuccarello’s stick was pretty close to cross-bar level when he tipped the shot. The goal stood without the benefit of video review and the Senators and their fans had to get nervous given the implosion that happened 24 hours before against Montreal. Jason Spezza restored the 2 goal lead on a goalmouth scramble following a shot from Erik Karlsson. The puck appeared to be frozen but Spezza banged it through Lundqvist, who protested that it should have been blown dead. From the other end of the ice, I can only imagine Robin Lehner felt a little bit of sympathy for his idol, remembering the Montreal game from March 18th where Lehner felt the exact same emotions.
It was another defensive zone faceoff play that led to New York climbing back within one. Again it was failure to get to the point that resulted in Marc Staal‘s blast being tipped home by Zuccarello for his second of the game. Ottawa held on to win, and tempers flared in the third after a big hit by Chris Neil on Marc Staal. Neil was jumped first by Zuccarello and then by Stall himself, in a scrum that had the potential to get really nasty. Ottawa ended up with the power play that effectively ended any chance at a Rangers comeback, and Ottawa held on to a lead this time to take the game 3-2.
NOTES & OBSERVATIONS
- The Senators have had great success against Henrik Lundqivst over his career, for such an elite goalie.
- The line of Smith, Zibanejad and Neil has been very good in the last couple of games. They were put together early in the Montreal game and have combined for 4 goals and 2 assists, and a combined rating of -2, and considering the 7 goal debacle against Montreal that isn’t too bad.
The Senators open the final week of the season when they pay a visit to Long Island to face the Islanders on Tuesday night.