OTTAWA – One liners, if delivered properly, can be very effective.
One line was all the New York Rangers needed Wednesday as Marian Gaborik scored twice, including the game winner, to beat the Ottawa Senators 3-2.
Gaborik elected to shoot during a two-on-one with linemate Derek Stepan and beat Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson short side to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead in the third period.
Stepan had a goal and two assists for the Rangers while Artem Anisimov picked up two assists, giving the line seven points. No other Ranger had a point.
“You always try to put lines together and see if they work. Sometimes lines look good on paper but they don’t show up in the games so you try different things,” New York coach John Tortorella said.
“We were struggling a little bit and we were a little stale offensively, so we tried some things and that line has worked.”
Ottawa’s Nick Foligno beat goalie Henrik Lundqvist just over a minute after Gaborik’s second goal to cut New York’s lead to one, but the Senators were unable to tie the game.
Milan Michalek had the other goal for the Senators (7-8-1), who have now dropped four straight following a six-game winning streak. The Rangers (8-3-3), meanwhile, have won five in a row.
Anderson only faced 19 shots while his teammates fired 31 at Lundqvist.
“I really feel we played pretty well defensively even though they had 30-something shots. A lot of those were from the outside and Hank made some key saves at key times,” Tortorella said.
The Senators didn’t do themselves any favours in the second period after they took a 1-0 lead on Michalek’s goal when two breakdowns led to two Rangers’ goals in short order.
On the first, Gaborik was left unguarded and he had an easy tap into an empty net at 9:21 following a cross-ice pass from Stepan.
Just 42 seconds later the Senators’ defence was once again absent as the puck lay in the crease by the feet of Anderson who was on his back. Stepan capitalized by skating around the net and scoring into another empty net.
“We’re not doing anything differently. We’re still working hard,” said Stephane Da Costa, who made a nice pass to set up Foligno for the Senators’ second goal.
“I think overall we played well. We have to play with the lead and we have to play 60 minutes. I think if we respect the system and play hard all the time like we are right now, at one point we are going to play with the lead more.”
The Senators had controlled the play for most of the first two periods, outshooting the Rangers 21-11 in the process, but other than a great shot by Michalek that went over Lundqvist’s shoulder at 8:39 of the second period they didn’t have any good scoring chances.
Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson broke in behind the defence and got a pass from Colin Greening, but his shot from in close was snared by the glove hand of Lundqvist.
The only action of the first period was an early fight between Sean Avery of the Rangers and the Senators’ Zenon Konopka, although the posturing before the bout seemed to last longer than the fight itself.
Notes: Daniel Alfredsson, Matt Carkner and Peter Regin continued to be sidelined for the Senators. Alfredsson missed his sixth game with a concussion and Regin his 11th with a bad shoulder while Carkner has yet to play this year with a knee injury. . . . Wojtek Wolski, whose hit gave Alfredsson the concussion, missed his third straight game Wednesday with a groin injury. Mark Staal missed his 14th game while Mike Rupp missed his seventh, both with knee injuries. … With their win the Rangers are now eight wins shy of 2,500 all-time in franchise history. … Defenceman Brian Lee was a healthy scratch for the Senators on Wednesday as was defenceman Anton Stralman for the Rangers.