NEW YORK, N.Y. - For a while, it seemed that Rangers coach John Tortorella's line-juggling with his two biggest stars would produce New York's first win at refurbished Madison Square Garden.
Then in a span of less than eight minutes, nothing worked for the Rangers. First the momentum was gone, then the lead, and then a shot at an important second standings point.
Jason Spezza scored twice, Milan Michalek capped Ottawa's three-goal comeback in the third period and then scored the only goal in the shootout, as the Senators stormed back to beat the Rangers 5-4 on Saturday and stretch their winning streak to five.
Tortorella broke up his top line that featured Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik and got positive results. Richards scored twice, off assists from Gaborik when they spent brief moments together, and added an assist. Gaborik had a goal and two assists for the Rangers, who turned around a 1-0 deficit and led 4-1 with 11:55 remaining in regulation.
Spezza started the rally with an even-strength goal at 9:18 and a power-play tally 3:31 later after Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson was injured when New York's Wojtek Wolski hit him and was given a penalty for an illegal check to the head.
That set the stage for Michalek's tying goal with 2:50 left that sucked the life out of the crowd that was poised for celebration moments earlier. New York won three of four after an 0-1-2 start, but has earned only one point in two home games since.
"We didn't get the job done," Tortorella said. "It's on us to keep working. Some of the details of our game are still weak and until we get that solid foundation of the details we will sputter."
The Senators are making a habit of heart-pounding comebacks. They won two straight home games with goals in the final minute of regulation.
"What we did at home is one thing," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. "Being down by three goals late, showing some resilience coming back and getting two points, doing it on the road, those are the kind of building blocks we can lean on."
Michalek squeezed the puck, off a rebound of his shot, in between Henrik Lundqvist's pad and the left post to tie it. He then made an unstoppable shootout move, lifting a perfect shot over Lundqvist's glove.
Craig Anderson, who made 24 saves through overtime, turned aside Erik Christensen, Richards, and Wolski in the shootout to win it.
"We've come back a few times this season and it shows strength in our team," Michalek said.
New York erased a 1-0 deficit, scoring twice in the second and third periods. Richards and Gaborik connected for the Rangers' second and fourth goals—both scored by Richards. The first was during a long power play and the second was shortly after the Rangers killed a penalty.
Ryan Callahan had New York's other goal. Lundqvist made 36 saves but it wasn't enough for the Rangers, who were the only NHL team not to lose when leading after two periods last season (29-0).
"We were trying to stay relaxed," captain Callahan said. "Unfortunately we didn't do what we needed to keep the lead."
Chris Neil had the other goal for the Senators (6-5), who are over .500 for the first time this season.
The game first turned in the second period when Ottawa's Zenon Konopka caught Artem Anisimov from the side and sent the Rangers forward into the glass face-first 4:05 into the second. Anisimov remained motionless for nearly a minute but returned to play soon after.
Konopka was given a major penalty for boarding and was ejected. The Rangers scored twice in the advantage to grab the lead.
The Senators held a 20-9 edge in shots when Richards fired a drive, creating a rebound that Callahan put in at 6:24. Gaborik then kept a clearing attempt in the zone and found Richards in front for the goal at 7:44.
The usually reserved Richards, made an emphatic thrust with his arm and then launched himself into the glass to celebrate his first MSG goal since signing with the Rangers this summer. He and Gaborik generated five points each in the first eight games, and Tortorella split them up during a home-opening loss to Toronto on Thursday.
The Rangers' lead grew to 3-1 when Gaborik scored 4:53 into the third, and Richards made it a three-goal edge at 8:05.
NOTES: Rangers C Mike Rupp (knee) missed his second straight game. ... Ottawa recalled G Robin Lehner from Binghamton of the AHL to back up Anderson. ... The Senators have scored 20 of their 33 goals in the third period, but have allowed 17 in the frame. Ottawa has only four first-period goals. ... The Rangers have been outshot in all nine games (3-3-3). ... Ottawa D Filip Kuba had three assists. ... After the game, the Rangers assigned C Kris Newbury and D Tim Erixon to Connecticut of the AHL.