Following a short two game losing streak, the New York Rangers got back on track this evening with a 3-0 shutout win over the Ottawa Senators. Henrik Lundqvist earned his 63rd career shutout with the win and moved within three of tying Patrick Roy for 15th all-time.
Given the trap system played by the Senators, the Rangers did an excellent job of sticking with their game plan until they finally caught their bounces. At points, especially during the first period, the game dulled down a bit with a lot of the Rangers offense coming from dumping and chasing.
After having numerous scoring opportunities on Craig Anderson, the Rangers finally broke the scoreless tie at 4:46 of the second period. A quick and hard forecheck by Jesper Fast jarred the puck loose in the corner, and Fast eventually worked the puck over to Kevin Hayes on the far side. Mike Hoffman blew his assignment on the pass across, which allowed Hayes plenty of time to step into the shot and pick the top right corner of the net.
Craig Anderson was still in transition when the puck flew by his right ear, and Hayes gave the Rangers their first lead of the night. Nearly 20 minutes later, Michael Grabner doubled up the Rangers lead with a perfect deflection in the high slot coming off of Marc Staal’s point shot.
Yet again, the goal came as a result of another quick forecheck by the Rangers and they were able to make the Senators pay on the scoreboard. A couple minutes after the goal, Brendan Smith and Mark Borowiecki came together going into the corner, and Borowiecki fell awkwardly into the boards. Borowiecki remained down on the ice for several minutes and was eventually helped off the by his teammates.
Brendan Smith was given a five minute major and an accompanying game misconduct on the play, which gave the Senators a huge power play opportunity. Thankfully, the Rangers penalty kill stepped their game up big time and only allowed a single shot on goal during the five minute power play. That kill energized the Rangers and they continued their shutdown effort in the defensive zone.
With under three minutes remaining in the game, Mika Zibanejad iced the game with an empty net goal from the far blueline, and gave the Rangers a 3-0 lead. The Rangers were able to kill off the remaining time to preserve Lundqvist’s shutout and won their sixth straight game on home ice.
Tonight was about as perfect of a game defensively as you could expect from the Rangers. They clogged up the shooting lanes, gave Lundqvist clear sight of shots from afar, and stuck to their game plan for a full 60 minutes. They picked up two big points and will look to build on tonight’s effort on Wednesday against the Carolina Hurricanes.