OTTAWA – At six-foot-seven Ben Bishop casts an imposing figure in the Ottawa Senators’ goal, but his teammates are even more impressed with the rookie’s poise and confidence.
Bishop stopped 25 shots in just his second game with Ottawa, and his first at Scotiabank Place, as the Senators beat the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers 4-1 on Thursday.
“Bishop played unbelievable,” said defenceman Jared Cowen. “I think that’s a good thing for us because going down the stretch goalies are huge and he’s already been a big part of the team for us.”
The Senators were in need of some solid goaltending after Craig Anderson was sidelined indefinitely with a hand injury, and they acquired Bishop from the St. Louis Blues prior to the trade deadline.
“It was a big team win, but for myself it was just nice to get my first one at home and get that under my belt and focus for Saturday,” Bishop said.
Nick Foligno had the winner, while Zack Smith, Kyle Turris and Jason Spezza, with an empty net goal, also scored for the Senators (36-25-8).
Ryan Callahan scored the lone goal for the Rangers (42-17-7), while Martin Biron faced 21 shots.
“We didn’t do a good enough job in a lot of areas,” said New York’s Ryan McDonagh. “We weren’t good defending around our net and they took advantage.”
After two straight losses Rangers coach John Tortorella feels his team is self-imploding in many ways.
“I think we’re beating ourselves sometimes in a game and finding ways to lose,” said Tortorella. “We’re just going to continue to keep working on our game and chip out the mistakes and see if we can get a little traction here.”
The Senators are three points behind sixth-place New Jersey in the Eastern Conference standings and eight points up on eighth-place Washington and Winnipeg.
“I think a game like this just goes to show that we can beat those kinds of teams like Boston and New York,” Cowen said. “It’s a good confidence booster for playoffs.”
With just seven shots through two periods the Senators rarely tested Biron, but they took advantage of a number of rebounds to earn this victory.
Turris scored his eighth of the season as he jumped on the rebound of Alfredsson’s shot from the point to give the Senators a 3-1 lead early in the third.
Spezza rounded out the scoring with an empty-net goal with just over a minute remaining in regulation.
Despite being outshot 9-3 in the second the Senators managed to hold their own against the Rangers thanks to the play of Bishop.
The 25-year-old made a number of big saves, including a great stop on Ruslan Fedotenko late in the period.
Bishop looked a little nervous to start the game as the Rangers opened the scoring at the four-minute mark. Callahan tipped a pass from Brad Richards into an open net as he caught Bishop moving.
“It wasn’t good to let in that first one,” Bishop said. “I think the team responded great getting a goal right back and we didn’t give up many chances and we didn’t give up too many rebounds.”
The lead was short-lived as Smith, scoring his first goal in 13 games, fired a slapshot from the top of the left faceoff circle to beat Biron.
With just over a minute left in the first period Foligno banged home a Jim O’Brien rebound to give the Senators a 2-1 lead. This was just Foligno’s third goal of 2012, and the first that wasn’t an empty-netter.
“I’m happy to get the goal for the team and hopefully many more to come,” Foligno said. “It was definitely a nice feeling to score.”
The Senators split the season series with the Rangers at two wins each.
Notes: The Senators were without G Craig Anderson (finger, indefinitely), C Peter Regin (shoulder, out for season), C Jesse Winchester (concussion, indefinitely). D Matt Carkner RW Bobby Butler and C Zenon Konopka were a healthy scratch. The Rangers were without D Michael Sauer (concussion, indefinitely) and C Brandon Dubinsky (broken nose, day-to-day). D Steve Eminger and D Jeff Woywitka were a healthy scratch.