Ok, I'll get this out of the way now; this game should have been over at 4-1 with the Rangers playing smart, defensive hockey down the stretch to seal the victory.
But that didn't happen. What did happen was another weak effort in the first period that saw the Rangers on accumulate 2 scoring chances the entire period and trail the Senators 1-0. The second period didn't start off well for the Rangers but after Zenon Kenopka's 5 minute major and match penalty for his board on Artem Anisimov, the Rangers woke up on the power play with Ryan Callahan scoring the Rangers first goal on a rebound from a Brad Richards point shot and Brad Richards followed that up with his first goal at MSG after an Ottawa turn over and a great feed from Gaborik in front.
For the first half of the third period the Rangers kept up the pressure and even added two more goals, one from Gaborik off a nice feed from Derek Stepan who found Gaby from behind the net, and Richards second goal of the game that came from a great feed from Gaborik.
After Gaborik's goal, Ottawa scored their second of the game and while the Rangers were still playing pretty well everything changed after Wojtek Wolski decided that it was a good time to elbow Daniel Alfredsson in the defensive zone while Alfredsson didn't have the puck anywhere near him. Spezza scored on the ensuing power play to put the Sens within one and Milan Michalek got a tap in in front while the Rangers stood around Henrik Lundqvist or something
With every Rangers fan in existence on egg shells, the Rangers mercifully got the game to overtime and then to the shootout
In the shootout Eric Christensen did what Eric Christensen does nowadays which is less than nothing (he had 10 shifts the entire game, 6 of which came in the first period his longest shift was 1:26 and it was in the 2nd period) while Milan Michalek pulled a nice move on Henrik Lundqvist and beat him high under the cross bar. The Rangers second shooter Brad Richards missed the net just over the crossbar and hit the glass. Jason Spezza was stopped and the game fell on the stick of Wojtek Wolski and maybe a chance at redemption...he's supposed to be good in the shootout right?
Wolski came out wide, skated in and put a weak attempt on Craig Anderson who knocked it away with ease. Which I found fitting as Wolski really handed this game to Ottawa on a silver platter.
After the jump some thoughts on player performances (Spoiler Alert: Some optimism here), video highlights and my star and goat of the game
So much for the Wojtek Wolski-Eric Christensen-Marian Gaborik line eh?
Gaborik was his usual self as he was flying in this game early and often and it payed off with him getting a goal and an assist tonight though both came without Christensen on the ice. Gaborik and Richards were creating offense tonight, and need to be put back together post haste. There are no excuses for breaking Gaborik and Richards up after this game.
Callahan and Dubinsky are slowly working their way back
Ryan Callahan played his best game of the season hands down tonight, and while there are still some hiccups in his game, he was around the net and pressured the puck both on offense and defense blocking back to back shots a penalty kill in the third period. Brandon Dubinsky looked to me to be looking more like the offensive player he needs to be. Getting chances and setting up the offense off the forecheck, he just needs to start finding the back of the net.
Two penalties are the story of this game
Zenon Kenopka's kinda-sorta boarding call on Artem Anisimov, which was a bad hit in an awkward position, led to the Rangers waking up a bit on offense and got them to their first two goals. Meanwhile Wojtek Wolski's blatant check to the head, as it was called, gave the Senators the game basically as they scored to make it 4-3 and the Rangers could not recover from that.
My player of the game:
Marian Gaborik: Gaby was flying today as he has been all season and he got on the board with a goal and an assist tonight. Marian has been the Rangers best player by far this season and really looks to be back in top form early
Wojtek Wolski: How can I make this any clearer? go back and look at his penalty tonight and that is the moment where the Rangers lost this game