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Raanta, Holden, Stepan Lead Rangers Past Senators

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NHL: Ottawa Senators at New York Rangers Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

After going down early in this game, the New York Rangers fought back from a two goal deficit and defeated the Ottawa Senators by a final score of 4-3. Antti Raanta, Nick Holden and Derek Stepan all had huge games this evening, with Stepan and Holden combining for two goals apiece. As for Raanta, he was simply spectacular after getting the surprising start, with Henrik Lundqvist getting the night off due to an illness.

Coming out of the Holiday break and on home ice, the Rangers were poised to have a quick start to this game. However, the Senators had other plans and quickly spoiled that start with an early goal coming at the 2:02 mark of the first period. Mark Borowiecki was credited with the goal after his point shot found it’s way through traffic and beat Raanta just under the crossbar.

This game took an ugly turn about a minute later, with Zack Smith tallying his eighth of the season to give the Senators an early 2-0 lead. Following a stunning sequence of events, the Rangers were able to get a goal back at the 11:37 mark after Nick Holden’s sneaky shot beat Mike Condon over the shoulder.

Just as the Rangers looked to be turning the corner offensively, the Senators came right back and silenced the crowd once more. This time around, it was Cody Ceci who tallied his first of the season on a blistering shot from just inside the right circle. Just prior to the goal, Kevin Klein wound up blocking the vision of Raanta as the shot came on net, and prevented his goalie from seeing the shot.

Unfortunately, this has become an alarming trend lately for the Rangers, and they are allowing a ton of goals as a result of self-inflicted wounds. With the Rangers needing some sort of spark during the second period, Derek Stepan lead by example and brought the Rangers right back into the game.

Stepan wound up scoring a pair of goals within a span of 12 minutes, including one on the power play, and evened up the game at the 14:55 mark of the middle frame. That set the tone for the third period, where Nick Holden would also net his second goal of the night, which gave the Rangers their first and only lead of the night. Holden’s game winning goal came from just below the goal line where he slipped the puck under Condon’s pad, and jammed it over the goal line.

Holden also made his presence known late in the game after swiping the puck out of the crease to prevent a goal by the Senators. Holden was often criticized by many early on this season, with myself included, but since then, he has quietly put together a solid season on the scoresheet.

With the goaltender pulled, the Senators attempted one final push in the offensive zone, but came up empty handed. While this game was anything but pretty, the Rangers found a way to overcome a two goal deficit and did so while fighting against the Senators trap game. Hopefully this will pave the way for a strong game on Thursday night against the Arizona Coyotes.