Rangers-Senators Preview


The New York Rangers were cooled off in their last game by a team that they've had trouble against in 2011-12.

They'll try to get back on track against the Ottawa Senators, who also have given New York problems this season but have lost six in a row on home ice in the series.

The Rangers were shut out in the last meeting, and the Senators are coming off their highest goal total in more than two years as they look to snap their home skid to New York on Thursday night.

New York (42-16-7) is atop the Eastern Conference but missed a chance to widen that lead on Tuesday, losing 4-1 to Atlantic Division rival New Jersey. The Rangers played with little emotion in falling to the Devils for the third time in five games this season - no other team has beaten them more than twice.

"They hated us tonight," center Brian Boyle said. "They wanted to kill us, and we need to match that. In stretches we did, but we need to take a look in the mirror - everyone individually. It's understanding as a group that we disappointed ourselves."

New York, which entered 4-0-1 in its last five, was outscored 3-0 and outshot 11-3 in the third period.

"We gotta work harder," said captain Ryan Callahan, who returned after missing three games because of a bruised foot. "Right now, this time of year everyone's battling for points and we've gotta find a way to go into that third period and bear down and not give up opportunities, try to create more chances and build on our second period that we had."

Ottawa (35-25-8) is one point behind New Jersey for sixth in the East. Like the Devils, the Senators played a desperate game Tuesday, beating Tampa Bay 7-3 to avoid a third straight loss.

They led 3-0 after the first period and scored three times in the third en route to their highest goal total since a 7-4 victory over Philadelphia on Jan. 3, 2010. All of those goals in the final 20 minutes came from Milan Michalek, the last two being empty-netters.

Ottawa had totaled four goals in its previous three games.

Ben Bishop made 25 saves in his Senators debut after being acquired from St. Louis on Feb. 26.

"When they score seven goals, it helps," said the 6-foot-7 Bishop, who could start against the Rangers. "The guys played good in front of me."

Ottawa has taken two of three meetings with New York this season and three of four overall. The Senators have won twice at Madison Square Garden in 2011-12, including a 3-0 victory in the latest meeting Jan. 12, but fell 3-2 on Nov. 9 in their latest home defeat to the Rangers.

That left Ottawa 0-5-1 against New York at Scotiabank Place since a 4-1 victory Nov. 22, 2008. The Senators have been outscored 20-8 during that skid.

Ottawa lost defenseman Chris Phillips to a broken nose Tuesday after a center-ice hit. He's uncertain for this game.

"Right now, it's open to evaluation," coach Paul MacLean said. "He had to get it reset. We'll just to see how he gets through it."

Michalek, who has nine goals and eight assists in his past 12 games, has four goals in his last three matchups with the Rangers.

New York's Henrik Lundqvist has given up 10 goals in his last three starts, the same number he's allowed during a personal seven-game win streak in Ottawa.