The Rangers did so out of credit and the Senators out of respect after New York’s goaltender made 34 saves to help his team to a rare victory over Ottawa by a score of 3-1.
“We played pretty solid today, but Hank was great in the nets – he made a lot of big saves,” Jaromir Jagr said after he and Martin Straka each contributed a goal and an assist in the Rangers’ second straight victory. “(Lundqvist) was the key. If you fall behind against a team like that, it’s hard.”
Straka scored during a first-period power play and Jagr struck in the second period as the Rangers won for only the third time in 13 games against the Senators since the 2002-03 season.
Brendan Shanahan added his 22nd goal of the season into an empty net with 14 seconds remaining and Lundqvist did the rest for New York (15-10-4), which had dropped four games in a row previously.
In a back-and-forth game with plenty of chances at either end, Lundqvist frustrated Senators shooters time and again. He was forced to make saves 17 in the second period alone to preserve New York’s lead.
“The last two games have been really good for us,” he said. “It was a big game for us. I think we played one of our best games this year. (The Senators) were smart and patient, but this game meant a lot for us. I was patient on the shots. I felt I was in control of the rebounds.”
Jason Spezza, with a power-play marker, had the lone goal for Ottawa (15-14-1), which was forced to play a second consecutive game without captain Daniel Alfredsson (hip) and defenceman Wade Redden (chest) because of injuries.
After winning four straight games and eight of nine, the Senators have now lost back-to-back contests in the duo’s absence. Some good news for Ottawa is that Alfredsson left with the team after the game and could make his return Sunday against Columbus. Redden didn’t accompany the Senators, however.
“I thought our guys did a good job of playing well without them,” Spezza said. “You have to tip your hat to Lundqvist. We hit him a few times. He made some big saves. We played a pretty strong game. We had just as many chances as them if not more, we just didn’t bury them.”
Ray Emery stopped 26 shots for Ottawa, which had won four straight games at home, but slipped to 6-7-0 on the year in friendly confines before a sold-out Scotiabank Place crowd of 19,192. New York’s last victory here came March 21, 2002.
New York finished 1-for-4 on the power play. The Senators also went 1-for-4 with the man advantage.
The Rangers opened the scoring late in the first period, while the Senators were playing two men down after consecutive penalties to Jason Spezza and Antoine Vermette. Jagr threaded a perfect cross-ice pass to Straka and his one-timer from a sharp angle beat Emery to make it 1-0 at the 17:02 mark.
The point extended Straka’s scoring streak to nine games, during which he has seven goals and nine assists. Jagr was at it again just more than six minutes into the second period when he took a pass in the neutral zone and wound his way into the slot before firing a wrist shot over Emery’s shoulder to double the Rangers’ advantage.
Spezza cut the lead in half late in the period, redirecting Christoph Schubert’s shot from the point during an Ottawa power play. Spezza now has at least a point in eight straight games with six goals and six assists in that stretch.
The Senators had a great chance to tie it in the final minute of the second, but Lundqvist made a glove save to deny Dany Heatley on a breakaway, then followed up with pair of stops on the ensuing rebounds. Ottawa pressed in the dying moments, but couldn’t find the equalizer.
Shanahan iced the game with a shot from well outside the Senators’ blue-line with Emery on the bench in favour of the extra attacker.
“It was very good for us,” said Shanahan, who entered the game tied with Atlanta’s Marian Hossa for the NHL goal-scoring lead. “They’ve got an excellent hockey team. We did a lot of things good defensively. (Lundqvist) was Henrik. We’ve come to expect that from him. Emery made some great saves at the other end and they came down and Henrik would do the same. That’s what we need from him.”
Notes: The Senators recalled centre Serge Payer from AHL Binghamton on Friday to take Alfredsson’s place in their lineup. a Rangers defenceman Sandis Ozolinsh was a healthy scratch for the second straight game…Ottawa’s road trip will see the team play four games in the next seven daysaNew York returned home and plays host to the Florida Panthers on Sunday.