OTTAWA – The Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers each got some early special teams practice Saturday night as the clubs opened the pre-season schedule with a rash of penalties.
The Senators were the team most affected by the penalties, but they skated away with a 3-2 win in front of an announced crowd of 17,616.
In all, 21 minor penalties were called with the majority of those being obstruction calls as they players worked to get their legs under them.
“Coming off of summer hockey, really, it’s second nature to put a stick on a guy for that one little second or try to lift his stick and it gets caught in his jersey and it’s a penalty,” said Senators defenceman Chris Philips.
“They’re penalties that you can’t take once the regular season comes along for sure.”
The Senators had five power-play opportunities in the third period and 10 overall but couldn’t manage a goal. The Rangers had nine man advantages, including six in the first period, but they were able to capitalize on one of their opportunities. Both teams gave up a shorthanded goal.
Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Mike Fisher all scored for the Senators while Brandon Dubinsky scored twice, including once shorthanded, for the Rangers.
Both teams changed their netminders to start the third period as Brian Elliot replaced Martin Gerber in the Ottawa goal and Rangers starter Stephen Valiquette gave way to Miika Wiikman.
“There were too many needless penalties and it was hard to evaluate the whole game because of that,” said Senators head coach Craig Hartsburg.
“There were too many stick penalties that don’t do anything for you and we have to address those.”
Heatley opened the scoring with a one-timer from the outside of the faceoff circle over the shoulder of Valiquette at 2:57 of the first period. Spezza doubled the Senators’ lead on a shorthanded breakaway at 13:17.
Fisher put the Senators up 3-0 at 2:12 of the second period when he stuffed his own rebound underneath Valiquette, but on their seventh power play of the game Dubinsky got the Rangers on the board with a quick shot from the slot that beat Gerber high. He added his second goal with less than five minutes to play in the third period.
The Senators were outshot 36-18 in the game.
Two Rangers players – Paul Mara and Corey Potter – each had more than seven minutes shorthanded of ice time.
On the Senators side Christoph Schubert led the way with 4:41, a little less than half his total ice time in the game.
“It’s pretty typical of pre-season play. Referees are making a point of letting you know what you can and cannot do,” Philips said.
“It’s a good time of the year to really focus on that but it usually drops off once the regular season starts because of the player’s awareness of the rules.”
The teams meet again Sunday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Notes: The Senators went 7-0-0 during the 2007 pre-season and are 64-49-11 overall in pre-season games. … Saturday’s game was the first time the Senators and Rangers have met in the pre-season.