Ottawa - January 13, 2012 - Craig Anderson made 34 saves for his first shutout of the season and Jason Spezza scored a pair of goals as the Ottawa Senators defeated the New York Rangers 3-0 at Madison Square Gardens. The win gives the Senators their 2nd straight win on the current road trip and stretched their streak to eight straight games without a loss in regulation time. The Senators sit 5th in the conference with 54 points but are only 4 points from the top spot.
The Senators viewed the game tonight as a measuring stick to see how they stand. The Rangers were the Eastern Conference leaders with a 27-9-4 record coming into the game. Tonight’s game was a battle between the NHL’s two hottest teams, with the Rangers holding a 5 game winning streak and the Senators with a 4-0-1 record in their last 5 and 7-1-2 in their last 10.
All day long the Senators talked about this game being a measuring stick and being played on Broadway where the Rangers were 13-3-2 on home ice. The Senators started slow and were outplayed by the Rangers in the first period. Craig Anderson held the Senators in during the first period and early second, but as the game wore on the Senators seemed to get their legs under them. Momentum started to shift after Jason Spezza gave the Senators the 1-0 lead.
What has really been impressive about the Senators lately though is how well they’ve played defensively. One of the highest scoring teams in the league the Senators have played much better defense in the last two weeks and that starts from the goaltender out. Tonight’s result has to make the other team’s in the Eastern Conference stand up and take notice.
Craig Anderson had a strong game tonight nets for the Senators, especially in the first period where the Rangers fired 13 shots on net, many of the difficult variety. Anderson was square to the shooters all night long and managed to jump on any rebounds. He was solid from start to finish and you could see the Rangers getting frustrated. His best period was the first though, where the notoriously slow starting Ottawa Senators were outplayed by the Rangers.
Maligned for much of the season, Anderson has played very well in his last six plus games, giving up just 10 goals in that stretch and he has not lost in regulation time since a 6-2 loss at home to the Montreal Canadiens on December 27th. His record since then is 7-0-1.
Jason Spezza was simply dominating tonight. Spezza scored his 17th and 18th goals of the season to lead the Senators. His first goal in the second period was spectacular. Spezza carried the puck over the blue line, then delayed to let Greening and Michalek go ahead of him and after looking off as though he was going to pass to Michalek he fired a wrist shot through a couple of bodies into the top corner past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
Jason Spezza had a little more fire in his eyes after receiving a knee on knee hit late in the first period from Ruslan Fedotenko. Fedotenko received a two minute penalty for kneeing and that seemed to make Spezza very angry. He elevated his play after that penalty and made the Rangers pay. Spezza scored his 2nd goal of the game on a rebound of his own shot late in the third period.
- Despite being outshot I thought the Senators outplayed the Rangers in the second half of the game.
- The Senators have played more games than the other teams in the Eastern Conference who are competing for a playoff spot. I look at this as a positive. Almost like a golfer who has recorded his score and is sitting in the club house. The Senators have put the points in the bank and can’t lose them. The other teams still have to win their games in hand.
- Milan Michalek scored his 23rd goal of the season and Erik Karlsson added two more assists and increased his lead for points by defensemen.
- Up next for the Senators a trip to Montreal on Saturday night.