Rangers get back to D in 4-1 win over Senators

Keith Yandle, Alex Chiasson

Keith Yandle is pumped after setting up Ryan McDonagh for a power play goal in a 4-1 Rangers home win over the Senators. AP Photo by Seth Wenig/Getty Images

It’s been a while since the Rangers played a complete game. They had struggled overall entering play with one win over the last six. Outside of a ugly 4-3 win over the lowly Canes, they haven’t been scoring. They followed up a well played shootout loss to the Islanders with a listless performance in a 2-1 home defeat to the Avalanche.

For once, it felt like old familiar times. A different Rangers team earned a 4-1 home win over the Senators at Madison Square Garden. A better overall effort which had to please coach Alain Vigneault. Derick Brassard scored twice and Ryan McDonagh matched a career high with three points including a power play goal and two assists. The Blueshirts were a perfect two-for-two on the power play. Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves including some big ones in a busy second for his 14th victory.

The best aspect of the win was the Blueshirts shutting down a good offensive team. They protected a one-goal lead after two periods by holding the Sens to three shots in the third. Ottawa played the night before rallying from two down to beat the Islanders 3-2 in overtime at home. Perhaps they got tired after a strong push in the second where they fired 13 shots on Lundqvist. They beat him once with Marc Methot getting a lucky bounce when his point shot went off Marc Staal past Lundqvist cutting the deficit to 2-1.

Lundqvist was at his finest during and after a Chris Kreider interference minor. He stoned dangerous second-year Senator Mark Stone from in tight. On a wild sequence with the team pinned in, Dylan McIlrath made a diving block of a shot. But an on rushing Dave Dziurynzki got to the loose puck firing a pea which a diving Lundqvist reached out and grabbed for a miraculous glove save. That one was a highlight reel which allowed his teammates to escape the period with a one-goal lead.

Limiting their opponent in the neutral zone with the kind of team defense we haven’t seen, the Rangers stood up at their blueline forcing turnovers. After forcing a turnover, McDonagh handed for partner Dan Girardi who passed back to the Rangers captain. He then sent a seeing eye rolling pass that got through to Brassard who broke in on Craig Anderson and went to a slap shot for his second of the game. His ninth from McDonagh and Girardi gave the Rangers some key insurance with 9:52 left.

Unable to get through an impenetrable Blueshirts defense, the Sens continued to force plays which resulted in turnovers. It was a smart period by the Garden hosts who made life easier on themselves outshooting the Sens 11-3 with Anderson in net. The 12th shot was taken by Jesper Fast, who put in the empty netter with 1:31 left. A nice reward for a hard working grinder who Vigneault trusts late in games.

This was a important win. Just to get some confidence with a big three-game Western Canadian trip coming with stops in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary between 12/9-12/12. It allowed them to move back into first place in the Metro Division one ahead of the Caps. They’ve played three more games (28). But to get a win the right way should help.

BONY 3 Stars:

3rd Star-Dominic Moore, NYR (3 shots, dominant on face-offs going 12-and-1, +1 in 24 shifts-16:41)

2nd Star-Derick Brassard, NYR (2 goals incl. PPG and insurance marker, 5 SOG, 7 attempts, +1 in 22 shifts-16:30)

1st Star-Ryan McDonagh, NYR (matched career high with 3 points incl. PPG, 2 assists, strong overall, 3 blocks, +2 in 25 shifts-21:04)

Notes: Kreider was more active. Playing on a line with Oscar Lindberg and Rick Nash, he had three shots and eight attempts missing the net on a couple of point blank chances. He had five hits in 23 shifts (16:06). The new line combined for nine shots, 20 attempts and a plus-15 shot differential. … Brassard played with Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes. … Emerson Etem was a scratch with Tanner Glass playing a third straight. He took 16 shifts (8:47) recording three hits with a minus-one on the fourth line.

Key stats: Blocked shots NYR-24 (Girardi 5 Boyle 4) OTT-10 (Karlsson 3)

Faceoffs: NYR 35-and-20 (Moore 12-and-1 Lindberg 12-and-6)

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of New York administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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