That’s definitely more like it. The Rangers ended their three game losing streak tonight and did it with ease against a team they knew they had to beat. The Senators are at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and are basically in evaluation mode, so this was not a statement game of any kind. However, the Rangers put away a team that they should have. What led to the Rangers losing against Minnesota was their inability to extend their lead and keep the Wild out of the game. We did not make that same mistake tonight. After ending the first period with another one goal lead, the Rangers made sure not to take any silly penalties and got two goals within 12 seconds of each other to knock Ottawa out of the game. For the most part, the Rangers have been fine against the top teams in the NHL, and it’s been the games against the teams they should beat that have been problematic. Tonight was not the case. The difference between playoff teams and non-playoff teams is that the playoff teams beat up on the bottom feeder teams. A nice and easy win is relieving, given the 1-goal losses we’ve experienced the past few games. Lets look at the post-game notes:
Henrik Lundqvist- The decision by Tortorella to play Henrik tonight, coming off a game last night and his 10 straight starts prior, was skeptical, but in hindsight it was the right decision. Henrik was strong tonight, making multiple great saves and was basically a black hole for rebounds. His pad save on Foligno was one of his best saves of the season. The Senators pressed a few times, specifically at the end of the second period, and Lundqvist did not allow the Sens to get any momentum. The Gonchar goal was inconsequential. 28 big saves from him tonight.
Mats Zuccarello- Another great game from him tonight, and good for him to get rewarded with the goal, a very nice backhand move on Anderson. It was his first goal in 19 games. Aside from the goal, he made some other nice plays throughout the night, as usual.
Sean Avery- A strong game from Avery after scoring yesterday. He did all the work behind the net to get the puck to Prospal on the first goal, and Tortorella finally rewarded him with some more ice time. Also, nice to see him play a physical game, but also keep himself in check. Chris Neil was persistent in nagging Avery in order to draw a fight, but Avery stayed away, knowing full well that there was no reason to give the Senators momentum. Bonus points to Avery tonight after Pierre McGuire reported that he chirped Chris Neil about the fact that the Senators “couldn’t give him away” at the trading deadline.
Wojtek Wolski- He continues to produce and is is becoming a more consistently active player. Two assists from him tonight, and his pass to Stepan on the fourth goal was fantastic. Including tonight, Wolski has 15 points in 24 games with the Rangers since he was acquired, solid enough numbers.
Brandon Dubinsky- It didn’t translate on the scoresheet, but Dubinsky looked a lot more like his normal self. He held the puck with confidence, got into the dirty areas, threw two hits and took three shots. His strong move with the puck to draw the penalty in the final minutes of the game was closer to what we were used to seeing from him.
Dan Girardi- The unsung hero of tonight, though he was credited as the second star of the game. He played an outstanding defensive game positionally, but also look at this stat line: one assist, five hits, two takeaways, and 8(!) blocked shots. In an ideal world Girardi is playing on the second pairing, but Girardi is doing just fine at the top. You’ve got to love that kind of effort. The whole Senators team had 12 blocked shots. Outstanding effort from Girardi.
The Rangers have off tomorrow before they play the Flyers in Philadelphia back at home on Sunday. Gaborik and McDonagh figure to be game-time decisions. I’d also assume that Lundqvist is in net.