New York held off a late burst of energy from the Senators which changed a 4-0 blowout into a closer 4-2 final score. Surely, the Rangers would have preferred to keep the score sheet clean and shut out the Senators, but that's not the way it turned out.
The win itself was never in jeopardy, however, the two goals scored by Ottawa in the final 10 minutes of the game do indeed serve a purpose. They broke the seal on goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who stopped 30 of 32 shots on the night, and they get to feel like they're the team with a bit of momentum heading into the next meeting, even though they lost.
The Rangers won the game thanks to big play from their big stars. Captain Ryan Callahan opened up the scoring midway through the first period, moments after delivering a few bone crunching hits, sending in a loose rebound as Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson was left out of position.
Ottawa then continued its strong play into the second period, until Rangers coach John Tortorella wisely used the team's lone timeout to refocus the squad. After that, Marian Gaborik scored on a sensational play he created all on his own, and Brian Boyle scored less than three minutes later, extending the lead to 3-0.
Brad Richards added a tally two minutes into the third to move the lead to 4-0, at which point it looked as if the Rangers would clamp down on defense on enjoy a shutout victory to open up their postseason action. However, Senators captain Dainel Alfredsson got one past his countryman and buddy Lundqvist, and Erik Condra followed that up with an additional tally.
Game 2 will be held at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, and the Rangers certainly have to feel good about their performance. Their biggest stars all showed up, they scored four goals, and Lundqvist was stellar in net.
Keep that up, and you have a solid blueprint for postseason success. Still, the team has to be wary of the a potent offensive club like the Senators, as the final 10 minutes of action showed.
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Sources: BlueshirtsUnited.com, Rangers.NHL.com, NHL.com