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Senators bounce back vs. Rangers

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- The Ottawa Senators quickly bounced back from one of their most disappointing losses of the season by turning back the New York Rangers 3-2 Saturday at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

After blowing a three-goal lead on the way to a 7-4 loss to Montreal on Friday, the Senators (33-31-4) never trailed against the Rangers and in doing so, ended a brief two-game losing streak.

Ottawa also played the role of spoilers, preventing the Rangers (43-31-5) from clinching a spot in the playoffs. New York needed just one point to lock up its postseason spot.

The Senators, playing their sixth game in nine days, are seven points out of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot and on the verge of elimination. However, coach Paul MacLean's club was impressive from the start of Saturday's game.

The Senators received goals from centers Jason Spezza and Mika Zibanejad and right winger Mark Stone and superb goaltending from backup goalie Robin Lehner (10-15-6), who stopped 41 shots.

"We've had some let-down games," said Lehner, of Ottawa's inconsistent season. "If nothing else, we can call it a day and quit the season, but there's a bigger plan for us. It was good to see the group come back today and battle hard the whole game."

Left winger Matts Zuccariello scored twice for New York, registering his fifth career multi-goal game. Zuccariello's 57 points this season are the most ever by a Norwegian player in the NHL.

New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist, making his 11th start in the last 12 games for the Rangers, stopped 31 shots. The Senators are the only Eastern Conference team that Lundqvist has a sub-.500 record against. In his career against Ottawa, Lundqvist is 12-15-3.

Zuccariello scored two second-period goals, cutting the Ottawa lead to 3-2. He tipped defenseman John Moore's blast from just inside the right point at 5:25, then at 11:55 scored on another deflection for his 19th goal of the season.

Spezza provided the Senators with a 3-1 lead when he poked in his 20th goal of the season at 8:27 of the second period.

The Senators took a 2-0 first period lead on goals by Zibanejad and Stone.

Center Zack Smith won the faceoff for Ottawa and Zibanejad skated in, created some space and fired a wrist shot for his 16th goal of the season and third in the last four games at 17:23.

"We were coming into a tough building against a very good team," said MacLean. "We came out with a good effort. I thought we were energized before the game and in the warm-up.

"We were able to get the lead, so that makes a big difference when you are not chasing the game the whole night, especially when you are the road team.

Stone, playing in just his 15th game with Ottawa this season, gave the Senators a 1-0 first period lead with his third goal of the campaign. Ottawa defenseman Chris Phillips started the play, skating out of his own zone untouched. He fed left winger Clarke MacArhtur, who slipped the puck over to Stone for a one-timer to the left of Lundqvist at 12:45.

Lehner was superb in the first period, stopping 16 shots, including left winger Rick Nash's backhand on the breakaway.

The Rangers are still in good shape for the playoffs, needing just one point to get in with two of their final three games of the season at Madison Square Garden against non-playoff teams Buffalo and Carolina.

"I hope out mindset is not just to clinch," said Lundqvist, "it's about getting the home (ice) advantage. "That's my mindset going into this. I'd rather look ahead than behind me, but we'll take the next game and focus on that.

"Every game now is going to be tough. We are playing teams that are out of it so we have to respect that."

NOTES: Ottawa RW Chris Neil picked up two penalty minutes to give him 204 minutes on the season. Going into Saturday night, Vancouver LW Tom Sestito had registered a league-leading 203 minutes. ... Senators D Erik Karlsson recorded an assist Saturday to move to 71 points, tops among NHL defensemen this season. ... New York was without D Ryan McDonagh, who was sidelined because of a shoulder injury he sustained at Vancouver on April 1. ... Rangers' C Derick Brassard, who recorded his sixth point in the last 10 games, skated in his 400th NHL game. ... Rangers C Dominic Moore, who appeared in his 600th NHL game, won six of eight faceoffs. ...Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist has made at least 30 saves 19 times this season.

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