The New York Rangers found themselves trailing three times tonight, but each time they fell behind, they fought back, and ultimately found a way to defeat the Ottawa Senators tonight 5-3 at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa. It was not pretty, and the Rangers found themselves stuck in stretches of clumsy play, but they needed a win tonight after playing horribly against these same Senators Saturday night. In the end, they would have an unlikely hero as one of their young defensemen would score his first NHL goal, and send the Rangers to victory.
- First Period: The Rangers were looking to have a better start to the game than their last, which included an awful first period. They would not get started off on the right foot, as the Senators would score on an early powerplay less than three minutes in. Henrik Lundqvist would make a terrific stop on Nick Foligno before Mike Fisher netted home the rebound. But from there on out, the Rangers would pick up their game and tie the score nearly two minutes later, when Derek Stepan (7) found a fanned shot attempt by Marian Gaborik land on his stick, and shot it past Brian Elliot. The Rangers would not play a great period, but they had a lot more jump in their step than Sunday night’s game. Late in the period, Matt Carkner would fight Derek Boogaard and land a massive punch square in the face of Boogaard, and taking him down to the ice moments later. For the first time all season, an opponent landed a perfect punch to his face. The Rangers would exit the period tied at one a piece, despite taking three minor penalties, including one by Alex Frolov, which resulted in the Senators’ goal.
- Second Period: Once again the Senators would get the early goal, as Jason Spezza would tally one with the man advantage 34 seconds in. And once again, the Rangers would quickly counter, with a goal at an even faster minute and nine seconds later. This one would be from newly placed first liner Ruslan Fedotenko (5), from Gaborik, who got his second assist of the night, and Rozsival whose slapshot hit the post just seconds earlier. Minutes later, it would appear that the Senators had retaken the lead, when Mike Fisher took a shot from the circle that the referee signaled went in just under the crossbar. But the replay would show a miraculous example of physics that kept the puck out of the net—first it struck the crossbar, then bounced straight down off the goal line, and then sideways off the post, before bouncing forward, and directly between the leg of Lundqvist and an oncoming skate of Rozsival. Just moments later, though, Fisher would have retribution when he scored a breakaway goal on assists from Foligno and Campoli. The Rangers powerplay would fail twice more in the second period, and their lack of discipline cost them yet another goal.
- Third Period: With the Rangers trailing by one heading into the third, they needed to hunker down and play a solid period of hockey. The Rangers would shut down the Senators and put some goals up on the board. For the third time in the game, they tied the score, when Erik Christensen (5) wound up for a shot in the corner along the goal line, and somehow, the puck trickled past Elliot—it was a horribly angled goal, and for the first time in a while, the Rangers are beneficiaries of such luck. With five and a half minutes remaining in the period, the Rangers once again found themselves on the powerplay. With only seconds remaining on the advantage, and it seeming like the Rangers were going to waste another opportunity, Tortorella sent out his grinders, and among the makeshift unit, defenseman Michael Sauer (1), who ripped a slapshot that found its way through a maze of people and into the net. It would be his first NHL goal, on assists from Prust, and Avery, who now has 13 on the season. The goal would stand to be the game winner, and Brandon Dubinsky (13) would tack on an empty net goal when the Ottawa defenseman playing the puck fell down, giving it away to Dubinsky. It was not a masterpiece, but the Rangers got a very important bounce back win.
Over the last few off days, the Rangers practiced a lot of different things, emphasizing the powerplay. Up until the Sauer goal, one could hardly tell that, and even so, the powerplay is cause for concern. They are not even generating chances, but spend much of the two minutes skating up and down the rink after they allow their opponents to clear the puck.
Ruslan Fedotenko looked very good on the first line with Gaborik and Stepan, that is, when Tortorella wasn’t experimenting with and reverting back to old line combinations. The Rangers’ offense is still not getting nearly enough shots, but Fedotenko’s checking and backchecking will be a welcome sight on the top line should he stay there.
Regarding the Boogaard-Carkner fight, it was originally Tweeted by Darren Dreger of TSN that Carkner flicked blood off his fingers at players on the Rangers’ bench. No one watching the telecast noticed this, though Carkner did get a ten minute misconduct. It could be possible that was the reason. If this is true, he should face further discipline from the league. Showboating after winning a fight is one thing, but to flick a bodily fluid at someone? Not only is it disgusting and immature, but it is dangerous as well. I truly hope this was all a misunderstanding, because that would be a new low for a hockey player to have stooped to.