In a game that was never really in doubt, the Ottawa Senators made relatively easy work of the visiting New York Rangers on Thursday night, limiting their opponents to low-percentage scoring chances and cruising to a 3-0 victory.
Craig Anderson made 27 saves for his first shutout of the season, while Matt Duchene and Drake Batherson each had a goal and an assist.
Ottawa coach Guy Boucher liked what he saw from his team, praising the Sens’ willingness to buy in to what the coaching staff has been pushing, resulting in what he considers their most complete performance of the season.
“The attitude is terrific, the work ethic is terrific. Our discipline was outstanding, first of all we didn’t take any penalties,” said Boucher immediately following the victory. “It was a total team commitment, from the beginning to the end. You could see it at the end, with guys blocking shots with 30 seconds left.”
Even with all the action, the third period was a scoreless one, as the Rangers struggled to get into a rhythm, desperate for a goal. The Sens, meanwhile, spent the majority of the period playing a strong defensive game, keeping the Rangers from putting together any semblance of a threat.
The first seven minutes of the second period featured a lot of back-and-forth action between the two squads, though neither team was able to generate any real quality scoring chances. That changed at the 7:47 mark of the period, as a scrum in front of the Ottawa net led to the puck trickling across the goal line. Upon further review, the goal was overturned after it was ruled that the referee had blown the whistle before the puck crossed the line, keeping the score at 2-0 for the home team.
Ottawa just missed on a partial breakaway near the mid-way mark of the second period, with Colin White’s wrist shot beating Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, but not the goal post. Duchene, however, would not be denied seven minutes later, taking a pass across the crease from Batherson and burying his 12th goal of the season, giving the Senators a comfortable three goal lead heading into the second intermission.
Batherson scored just over two minutes into the game, taking a pass from Duchene directly in front of the New York net and firing a backhander over the left shoulder of Lundqvist, bringing the home crowd to life early on. Following the game’s opening salvo, both teams traded quality scoring opportunities, but neither was able to ripple the mesh. Several minutes passed before a stoppage even occurred.
The Sens would add a second tally 14:35 into the first period, as Magnus Paajarvi took a pass from Zack Smith in the slot and fired a strong wrister from the right circle past Lundqvist, putting the Sens ahead by two. The Rangers would apply pressure in the final few minutes, but Anderson made one solid save after another to keep the visitors off the scoreboard.
Up next for the Sens is one of the most highly anticipated games in franchise history, as former captain Erik Karlsson makes his first visit to Ottawa tomorrow as a member of the visiting team, with the San Jose Sharks in town for a matinee game on Saturday afternoon.