NEW YORK RANGERS - In Rick Nash's Absence,
Captain Callahan Tried Doing It All, And Almost Did.
Sens Back-Up Goalie Ben Bishop Outlasts King Henrik
During Seven Rounds of Shoot-Out.
Blueshirts Still Holding On To Eighth Seed
Skating without Rick Nash for the second straight game, the Rangers earned a precious point on the road - their tenth in their last seven games. The Rangers are 6-3-1 in their last ten games, and 8-6-2 on the season. So why aren't I happier?
The Rangers fell behind early; too early; six and a half minutes into the game early; to the Ottawa Senators, who took the Rangers to seven games in last season's playoffs. Both teams then continued to do very little other than scar the ice until the third period. Midway through, Ryan Callahan finally got the Rangers on the board, with a game tying, power play goal. It was Ryan Callahan's third pp goal this season, and only the Blueshirts seventh of the year. Roughly one minute after Callahan's goal, Ryan McDonagh put the Rangers ahead. But hold on there Tex!... At 13:19, Brian Boyle got whistled for holding. And you know what comes next. The Sens Mike Zibanejad scored a power play goal to tie the game at two-all. Both teams spent the overtime session scarring up the ice some more. Then into shoot-out they went. By the time they finished after seven rounds, the Rangers were losers of two out of three shoot-outs in their last five games.
The Rangers scoring only came after Sens goalie Craig Anderson was taken out bowling pin style, by a free sliding Chris Kreider. One of the league's top goalies left the game with a sprained ankle. That just added to an already ruinous injury situation for Ottawa.
Marian Gaborik led all Rangers with seven shots on goal in thirty one shifts. He and Derek Stepan led all forwards in ice time. Taylor Pyatt was next high man with five shots on goal. Brad Richards only managed two shots in twenty five shifts. Called up from Connecticut to help out, Brandon Mashinter fired off one shot on goal in nine shifts. In twelve minutes of even-strength ice time, Chris Kreider managed no shots, administered four hits, and eliminated one goalie.
The greatest shoot-out goalie in the known universe has looked normal in his last two extra-curricular challenges. Granted, the Rangers needed to do a better job when you consider it took seven rounds to decide a winner Thursday night. Six Rangers - Gaborik, Stepan, Richards, Hagelin, J.T. Miller, and Kreider, all failed to score in the shoot-out. Where was Marek Malik when we needed him? Ryan Callahan, the Captain, again, was the only Blue-shirt to slip one by Sens back-up goalie Ben Bishop.
Otherwise, King Henrik faced thirty seven total shots, allowing two regulation time goals. On the game's opening Ottawa score, Dan Girardi fell and buffed the ice, leaving Henrik stranded by himself against Jakob Silfverberg, who converted a short-hand opportunity. And there ya go. That upset me most, because this game followed one of the Rangers more pathetic performances of the season on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden against the Canadiens.
On Saturday, the Rangers will face the Canadiens again in Montreal. The Habs are number one in the Eastern Conference; tied with the New Jersey Devils with twenty four points. They lead the Northeast Division by two points over Boston. By gaining a desperately needed point against the Senators, the Rangers maintained their number eight seeding in the Eastern Conference with eighteen points - only one point better than Tampa Bay. The Rangers will get a chance to clash with the Lightning shortly, this coming February 28th. In the Atlantic Division, the third place Rangers trail the first place Devils by six points.
* The Rangers still aren't saying what ails Rick Nash. He missed a practice prior to last week's game against the Capitals, but did in fact play against Washington. He then missed the last two games against the Habs and Sens.