After defeating the Ottawa Senators Monday night in Madison Square Garden, the Rangers travel to Ottawa in hopes of sweeping the home-and-home (7:30 P.M. ET, MSG).
The Blueshirts defeated the Senators 4-2 on Hockey Fights Cancer Night. Marc Staal and Lias Andersson each scored their first goal of the season. Chris Kreider scored the game winning goal from a Filip Chytil pass on an odd man rush. Mika Zibanejad tacked on the empty netter and continuing his goal streak against the Senators. Henrik Lundqvist made 29 saves and received the first star of the game.
“We win as a group here…so it’s great to see a lot of different pieces are coming together,” said Lundqvist.
“A goal is a goal. Definitely not the prettiest one, but I’ll still take it,” said Andersson, who scored his second career goal.
“It’s a big win for us…it’s nice to get back in the win column,” said Howden, who helped break a two game losing streak.
Tonight, these two teams collide for the second time in four days. Lundqvist and Craig Anderson, who each started Monday night, will each start again. With the game fresh in the memory of both teams, the Rangers know they are going to have to play a better game.
“We just got to make sure we match their intensity,” said Zibanejad, who has scored in all four games against his former team.
The Rangers had a tough practice yesterday as they prepared for the upcoming rematch. The coaches were making it clear to the players that they are going to need a better effort than what was shown on Monday.
“The coaches really drilled home that what we did on Monday is not going to be good enough on Thursday,” said defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. “That’s one hundred percent right. I don’t think we’re going to see the same Ottawa team, and I don’t think we’re going to be let off the hook as much as we were on Monday night.”
“We know what we’re in for tomorrow night: You play a team back-to-back, you just beat them, a little more urgency on their end,” said head coach David Quinn after Wednesday practice. “They had a big win yesterday so they’re feeling good about themselves. We certainly understand that we’re facing an opponent that’s feeling good and looking for a little bit of redemption.”
Wednesday’s practice did have two notable absentees. Mats Zuccarello, who has missed 8 of the past 10 games due to a nagging groin injury will miss the next two games. Along with Zuccarello, Vladislav Namestnikov will also be unavailable the next two games north of the border. Namestnikov was injured late in the third period Monday, after a big collision with 21-year-old defender Thomas Chabot. He is currently in the concussion protocol.
“I was going full speed and it wasn’t my intention to hit him that hard,” said Chabot. “Hopefully he’s all right. It was just a split-second. I put my head up and he was coming at full speed. It was just a contact.”
Without calling anyone up from Hartford, the Rangers will dress seven defenseman for the second time this season. Quinn hinted that a defender may be playing up front tonight.
While the Rangers are home warriors, they have mightily struggled on the road. In 11 games played, the Rangers have only managed three wins.