FINAL SCORE: New York Rangers – 2 Ottawa Senators – 3
FIRST PERIOD: Coming into tonight’s game with the opportunity to clinch on the line the Rangers needed to come out at play well, especially with the stigma that teams don’t play very well the first game at home after a road trip. For what it’s worth, the Rangers did come out and play well at first until their first defensive lapse and from there it all went down hill. After their first lapse the game was all Ottawa’s to take, and after Henrik Lundqvist bailed the team out with some very good saves he could not do it anymore, Mark Stone scored with about seven minutes left in the first period. Five minutes later, immediately off of the face-off, Mika Zibanejad sniped the puck right over Lundqvist’s glove and into the net to increase the Senator’s lead to 2-0. The period came to it’s end, and the Rangers led 16-12 in shots, failed on a power play opportunity and were sung off by 18,000 boos at Madison Square Garden.
SECOND PERIOD: The Rangers really needed a spark coming into the second period if they wanted any chance of coming into this game, and with just over five minutes gone by in the period, who else but Mats Zuccarello provided just that by scoring the Rangers first goal of the game and cutting the deficit to one. After gaining the crowd’s attention and some of the momentum back, Henrik Lundqvist made a save and the referee decided not to blow the play dead and allowed the puck to be poked in by the Senators and regain a two goal lead. However, three minutes after that Mats Zuccarello struck again and cut the deficit to only one goal for the second time in the game. After fighting hard to try and tie the game before the second period came to it’s end, and getting numerous chances to do so, the final buzzer blew for the period, the Rangers led 14-12 in shots for the period, 30-24 so far in the game, down 3-2 in goals.
THIRD PERIOD: Coming into the third period there was only one thought on the Rangers minds and that was “one goal”. One goal at any time to tie the game, force it into overtime, get at least one point and clinch a spot in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. After sticking with rolling four lines as he usually does we saw something unfamiliar from Alain Vigneault, he actually sat the fourth line and starting only playing the first three, this is extremely abnormal for Vigneault and I personally was surprised to have seen that done. Regardless, the top three lines did not capitalize as they needed too, the Rangers had multiple chances, Martin St. Louis and Rick Nash arguably had the best chances of the night and of the period and failed to capitalize. Late in the period, Chris Neil came all the way across the ice and hit Marc Staal, as the two fought, a few other couples squared off and out of all of that somehow the Rangers ended up on the penalty kill with two minutes and 45 seconds remaining in the game. Unsurprisingly, the penalty was killed off and after one final great save by Lundqvist and by Robin Lehner, the Rangers fell to the Senators 3-2 at the garden. The shot totals for the game were 43 for New York, 34 for Ottawa.