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Rangers Vs. Senators: Entering The Break On A High Note

Notes from the Rangers win over the Senators.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

- Had there have been an autopsy of a loss last night, the cause of death would have been the botched 1:15 of 5-on-3 hockey where the Rangers impressively didn't generate a single genuine scoring chance. With that much time for a two-man advantage it's almost harder to not create scoring chances than it is to score a goal. This was pretty much the strategy with the advantage:

Yeah, that didn't work at all. Too much standing still, not enough shooting. If the back door doesn't work -- and Ottawa did a good job baiting the Rangers to move the puck down low before choking off the lanes -- then shoot from the point. You have two more players than they do, you can find space somewhere.

- Why am I spending so much time (at the top no less) on the 5-on-3? Mainly because the Rangers need to be better with the man advantage. And while they got away with that last night, there better be some extra work in practice to make sure that never happens again. In the playoffs those mistakes aren't as easily dismissed.

- All that negativity aside, the fact the Rangers came out the way they did in the third speaks volumes about the men they have in their locker room. That 5-on-3 was about as deflating a 5-on-3 I've ever see in my life, and more often than not (especially when the team that kills it is on the road) it kills the crowd and the momentum. But the Rangers took a deep breath between periods and came out ready to go in the third.

- Chris Kreider was the Rangers' best player last night and it wasn't even close. I'm guessing he was a little down on himself during his slump, but with five goals in 10 games you can see the wheels turning. Kreider used his speed to create chances (and score the game tying goal), was physical in the corners and hounded the Senators on the forecheck all night. He was relentless. And if Derek Stepan doesn't stop his point-blank shot or if the puck doesn't roll of his stick late, Kreider could have had a hat trick. Fantastic game from him.

- Those are the games where you need to have secondary scoring. The top two lines weren't getting much done at all. Then Kevin Hayes -- who has been improving game after game -- scores a goal, you get the tying goal from Kreider and then Carl Hagelin pots the winner in overtime. Three sets of secondary scoring who did the primary scoring in a really important win.

- That overtime pass by Stepan, by the way? My word. Stepan has 32 points in 31 games this year, you can see why.

- When the Rangers did find themselves in trouble, Henrik Lundqvist was there. And boy was he good in a game where things could have gotten out of hand quick.

- The top pairing of Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh? Pretty terrible game all around. Although I will give the Rangers a pass on the Senators' first goal since Jesper Fast took out McDonagh after he fell. Still, Girardi and McDonagh have to be better.

- I do find it funny, however, that some in the media have no issues pointing out when a guy like Fast makes an error-- he turned the puck over on the first goal for the Senators -- but somehow doesn't see the work he does to make the Hayes goal happen.

- Tweeted this last night but want to say it again here: If, for any reason, J.T. Miller sits again I want people to watch this game and see what Miller does night in and night out. And then ask yourself if the replacement can do those things. If the answer is no then he shouldn't be sitting. You can actually play this game for Fast and Lee Stempniak, too.

- Did you guys see Miller throw a hit, by the way? Funny because I didn't think anyone other than very special players could do that. You know, to provide an edge. Because hits are so hard.

- Anyway, that's a huge win for the Rangers entering the break. And now that Rick Nash is the only guy required to do something until Monday, it should be a good chance for the Rangers to breathe a little before the final stretch.