In their first meeting since Game Six of last year’s Eastern Conference Second-Round, the Rangers avenged their playoff loss to the Senators 3-0.
The game boiled down to two key points. The stellar play of Henrik Lundqvist. And the stifling penalty-kill the Rangers deployed.
An early second period goal by Kevin Hayes put the Blueshirts up 1-0. It would be the only goal they would need. It’s not often that Hayes rips off a beautiful shot, but when he does, WOW! He ripped a wrist shot over the shoulder of Craig Anderson, and the home team had the lead.
An early third period goal by Michael Grabner all but sealed the deal. And no it wasn’t an empty-netter. That would come later.
Before the Rangers could get there, they had to kill off a five-minute major penalty. Brendan Smith was assessed a penalty for interference and given a game-misconduct when Mark Borowiecki fell and slammed his head into the boards.
Coach Alain Vigneault would describe it as, “any unfortunate hockey accident.”
With the Blueshirts needing a big stop, Henrik Lundqvist and the defense delivered. For five minutes the Senators got nothing going. They had failed to turn the tide of the game. And though there was still time on the clock, the game was all but over.
With the Blueshirts up 2-0 in the waning minutes of the period, Mika Zibanejad pulled off his best Michael Grabner impersonation. The empty-net goal gave the Blueshirts a 3-0 lead.
When asked about impersonating Grabner, Zibanejad humorously replied: “I missed my chance the other night. And I thought I missed this one too. But it was nice to finally get one.”
BLUESHIRT BULLET POINTS
GOING STREAKING: The 7th Avenue Skaters had their six-game win-streak broken by Chicago. But they still have one streak intact. They’ve now won six-straight on home ice.
PAPA JOHN’S: With three or more goals in 12 of their last 15, it’s safe to say the famous pizza chain is doing quite well for itself. As for the Rangers, hopefully the players get to eat for free, as they’re the ones doing the hard work.
PK ALL DAY: Having killed off 50 of the last 59 penalties called against them, the Blueshirts’ penalty kill is firing on all cylinders. Now if only the power-play would round back into form.
HIS MAJESTY: Henrik Lundqvist pitched his second shutout of the year. Stopping all 20 shots Ottawa directed his way. The King is the franchise’s All-Time leader in shutouts — among other categories — and looks to still have plenty of gas in his tank.
The Rangers face Jordan Staal and the Hurricanes Wednesday (Nov. 22) at PNC Arena. Game time is 7:00 p.m. ET and the broadcast is on MSG Network.
It wasn’t always pretty, but the Rangers got the job done when they needed to most.
It’s important not to let a losing-streak get out of hand. By nipping theirs at two-games, the Blueshirts can get back to their winning ways.
On nights when Lundqvist and the defense play like they did tonight, the Rangers can beat any team in the league.