OTTAWA – Henrik Lundqvist was not quite himself on Tuesday—but he still made his mark on the New York Rangers.
Lundqvist became the winningest goalie in Rangers franchise history as New York routed the Ottawa Senators 8-4, earning his 302nd career victory to unseat Mike Richter.
“It’s an incredible feeling,” said Lundqvist. “A proud feeling. Being up there with those guys that have played for the organization for a lot of years and the franchise has been around for so long, it’s kind of surreal. I want to keep going obviously and hopefully I have a lot of years left to keep winning.
“I’ve been lucky to play with a lot of great players and it’s been a great ride so far.”
Lundqvist has a career goals-against average of 2.27, far less than the four goals he allowed against Ottawa.
Derick Brassard, Benoit Pouliot, John Moore and Ryan McDonagh all scored in the second, with the final three coming less than four minutes apart late in the period. New York took a 5-2 lead into the final 20 minutes.
“In the second period I think we really took over,” said Brassard.
Brassard scored his first of two goals at 8:56 then Pouliot beat Ottawa netminder Robin Lehner at 15:48 after taking the puck away from Jason Spezza in the slot as the Senators captain got tangled up trying to recover a pass in his skates.
“We’ve been struggling scoring goals so we found a way as a group to score some goals in the second and there’s where we took over,” said Brassard.
Moore scored at 18:44 as he shot the puck towards the goal from along the boards after crossing the blue-line into the Senators’ zone.
McDonagh scored at the 19:44 mark when he tipped a shot in past Lehner, who allowed five goals on 26 shots and was replaced by Nathan Lawson to start the third period.
Lawson allowed two goals early and was replaced by Lehner with eight minutes to play after making eight saves.
“We’re embarrassed. It was a must-win game for us and to give up eight is nothing but unacceptable,” Spezza said.
“They get the lead and we just unravel. It’s kind have been the same thing all year for us. We haven’t been consistent enough and able to play with leads enough and it seems like tonight was a microcosm of a lot of things.”
Rick Nash scored a short-handed goal in the first period for the Rangers (37-29-4) while Derek Stepan, Brassard and Nash, into an empty net, scored in the third.
Lundqvist made 16 saves in the second period and finished with 35 overall.
Mike Hoffman and Mika Zibanejad scored first-period goals for the Senators (28-27-13), who have lost four straight and eight of their past 10.
Milan Michalek and Bobby Ryan had goals in the third for Ottawa.
With just 14 games remaining in the regular season the Senators trail the Rangers by nine points for the final playoff spot and there are three other teams between the two clubs.
“We knew it before the game. We talked about it, we touched on it that these were four points essentially, and to give up eight at home is awful,” Senators forward Bobby Ryan said with regards to the importance of the game.
“We’re going to have to review a lot and see but the only thing we can do is come to the rink tomorrow, maybe not with a fresh attitude but with the attitude that we have to get better in some areas, and hope that if we do the right things there is still time to clean this mess up.”
The night started well for the Senators as Hoffman scored on a one-timer from the point seven minutes into the game, and just seconds later they were awarded a power play when Carl Hagelin was called for hooking.
Hoffman was playing the point on the power play and he got stripped of the puck at the New York blue-line by Nash who went in and beat Lehner far side.
The Senators levelled their power plays four minutes later when Zibanejad scored with the man advantage sending the Senators into the first break ahead 2-1.
Notes- Matt Kassian, Patrick Wiercioch and Craig Anderson were scratches for the Senators Tuesday. Scratches for the Rangers were Raphael Diaz, Derek Dorsett, Ryan Haggerty and Justin Faulk…Erik Karlsson continues to lead all NHL defencemen in scoring with 61 points. He also leads the Senators in scoring…The last time Robin Lehner started three straight games before Tuesday was back in early November. He won all three and was named the NHL first star of the week…Henrik Lundqvist is officially the King of New York as he became the winningest goaltender in the history of the Rangers with 302 wins, one more than Mike Richter. Lundqvist is also one shutout shy of 50 for his career…The Rangers have not allowed a power play goal against in their past eight games prior to Tuesday and were shorthanded 21 times over that span and had scored three shorthanded goals.