NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, March 18th (All times Eastern)
New York Rangers (36-29-4) at Ottawa Senators (28-26-13), 7:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The fading Ottawa Senators have a chance to make up some ground in the playoff race on Tuesday night as they play host to the New York Rangers.
The Senators are in the midst of a 2-5-2 skid, dropping them seven points behind the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, a position currently held by the Rangers.
New York is tied for third place in the Metropolitan Division with the Columbus Blue Jackets, as both clubs have 76 points. However, the Blue Jackets have two games in hand to hold the current tiebreaker and push the Blueshirts out of one of the three automatic playoff bids in the division.
The Senators have lost three straight and are coming off a 3-1 setback to the Colorado Avalanche. Ottawa was six seconds away from being shut out before Mika Zibanejad scored on a one-time blast.
Robin Lehner stopped 19 shots in defeat.
"We need wins right now, not moral victories," said Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean.
Lehner was making his second straight start in place of the injured Craig Anderson, who suffered an upper-body injury in an overtime loss to the Nashville Predators last Monday.
Anderson remains day-to-day and Lehner is likely to face the Rangers tonight for the second time in his career. He won the first meeting, stopping 33-of-35 shots faced.
New York also is slumping, having lost six of its past nine games. That includes a tough-luck 1-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Sunday that denied goaltender Henrik Lundqvist a piece of team history.
Lundqvist made 28 saves and remains stuck on 301 career victories, tied with Mike Richter for the most in club history.
The Rangers were denied a potential tying goal in the second period. Carl Hagelin forced a shot from a severe angle along the goal line to Antti Niemi's left, and after the San Jose backstop virtually glued himself to the post, the puck was obscured underneath his equipment.
A lengthy replay was not conclusive enough to overturn the original no-goal ruling on the ice.
"I thought defensively we did what we had to do. Offensively, we did everything but finish. We had some very good looks, but we couldn't pull the trigger," New York coach Alain Vigneault said. "You've got to believe if we keep playing this way, we'll be alright."
Martin St. Louis played in his sixth game with the Rangers since being acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning and has yet to score a goal with his new club. He has two assists and is a minus-1.
St. Louis has 15 goals and 43 points in 50 career games versus the Senators, while Lundqvist is 11-14-3 with a 2.08 goals against average versus them.
The Rangers snapped a five-game series losing streak to the Senators with a 4-1 win in Ottawa on Jan. 18. Derek Stepan had a goal and two assists, while Cam Talbot came up with 29 saves.
The Blueshirts bested the Sens for only the second time in the last nine meetings and the recent victory snapped a three-game slide in Ottawa.
03/18 10:57:50 ET