81 games down, one to go.
The New York Rangers, in their final regular season road game, were defeated 3-1 by the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Center this afternoon. Much like last game against the Capitals, the Rangers entered this afternoon’s contest missing one third of their regular lineup, as they gear up for the playoffs. Derek Stepan and Marc Staal were added to the inactive list today, while Brady Skjei made his return to lineup after missing Wendesday’s games.
Given that a good portion of the lineup was shaken up, the Rangers had a hard time handling the Senators, who were still looking to lock up the second seed in the Atlantic Division. These games are also meaningless for the Rangers, who are just looking to escape the regular season unharmed, and prepare for their upcoming series with the Montreal Canadiens.
While the Rangers as a whole had a disappointing performance, Henrik Lundqvist certainly showed that he’s ready for the post-season. Lundqvist turned away 30 shots throughout the afternoon, and had a relatively strong game considering the lackluster play in front of him. With the Rangers scheduled to close out the season tomorrow night, Lundqvist will get a much needed rest after appearing in six straight contests since returning from injury.
Following an uneventful first period by both teams, the Senators finally broke the scoreless drought early during the second period. Henrik Lundqvist was able to make a series of saves after a scramble in the crease, but Mike Hoffman eventually finished it off with wrist shot from just inside the hash marks. A short time later, ex-Ranger Derick Brassard tallied his 14th of the season to give the Senators a 2-0 edge.
With the Rangers needing at least two goals to get back into the game, everyone at lest expected them to show some life. And while they did have chances, Craig Anderson came up big for the Senators to keep the Rangers in check. About six minutes into the final frame, the Senators took a stronghold on the game following a goal by Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
Mark Borowiecki’s point shot wound up being deflected in front by Pageau, and the puck dipped under Lundqvist to make it a 3-0 game. The Rangers continued to come up empty for the rest of the period, until Mika Zibanejad finally broke the shutout bid with under a minute remaining. He was able to fool Anderson with a quick stride around the net, and Zibanejad dunked the puck under Anderson to make it 3-1. Unfortunately, time would run out on the Rangers, as they fell 3-1 in their final regular season road game.
The Rangers will have one final game remaining on their schedule, with the Pittsburgh Penguins coming into Madison Square Garden tomorrow night. With the playoffs unofficially expected to start on Wednesday, it will be interesting to see if Alain Vigneault rolls with a complete lineup tomorrow night.