Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sauer Atones For Early Mistake With Game Winner To Lead Rangers Past Senators

The Rangers with their upcoming schedule needed to get two points out of this game against the Senators and while the game itself was far from pretty they found a way to get the two points and will move on to Columbus on Saturday.  In a very fitting fashion it would end up that Michael Sauer who has been the mark of consistency this season on the defensive end would atone for his worst defensive mistake of the season to start the game and finish it having scored the game winning power play goal.  Not much else to say about the overall game so let’s get to the details.
If the Rangers were looking to come out strong after their poor performance on Sunday it could have fooled anyone who watched the start of this game.  You could sense from the opening puck drop that the club was asleep and that a goal was coming quickly.  At 1:33 of the first Michal Rozsival would get called for high sticking Daniel Alfredsson in the slot.  After a decent first minute of the kill, Michael Sauer made his worst play of the year throwing a behind the back pass out in front of his own net that would lead to a shot that Lundqvist stopped and then Foligno would find Mike Fisher who would put it in the open net at 2:54.

To the Rangers credit they would respond as Derek Stepan would block a Sergei Gonchar shot at one end carry the puck down the ice and drop it off to Marian Gaborik.  Stepan continued towards the net and when Gaborik’s fanned shot squeaked through the defenders Stepan was in alone on  Elliot and beat him high to tie the game 1-1 4:40 into the first.

Not much else would happen in the first other than a Matt Carkner versus Derek Boogaard fight and a bad penalty by Brandon Dubinsky late.  The fight followed a beautiful open ice hit by Boogaard that Carkner did not like.  In the fight, video here, both would land shots, but Carkner got the best one in and he also tossed Boogaard to the ice.  Dubinsky’s penalty with only 23.6 seconds left in the period was a needless roughing penalty.

The Rangers would pay quickly for the bad penalty by Dubinsky as 34 seconds into the second period Jason Spezza would score on a wide open net.  The reason that the net was wide open was a lousy play by Marc Staal where instead of actually hitting Milan Michalek he stood next to him and then Michalek pushed him on top of Lundqvist and Spezza scored while Staal was on top of his legs.  The Rangers would once again respond quickly as at 1:43 Ruslan Fedotenko would score to make it 2-2.  The play was created by a good shift for the line and after a cycle play Gaborik would end up with it behind the net and feed Fedotenko for the shot. 

For a moment just 25 seconds later it looked like there might be another Ottawa lead as it was called a goal for Mike Fisher, but after review it was seen that the puck went off the crossbar, off the post and never went in.  Guess Mike Fisher really wanted that second goal as at the 8:47 mark he would get it to give the Senators a 3-2 lead.  The play had Foligno finding Fisher in the neutral zone with a head-man pass and Fisher blowing by Steve Eminger and beating Henrik high glove.

Early in the third the Rangers would get a gift as from a sharp angle Erik Christensen would just throw the puck at the net and score on an awful goaltending play by Brian Elliot.  To that point the Rangers still were not playing very good hockey and yet it was 3-3.  The best save of the night would come at 6:17 of the period when Henrik Lundqvist would rob Mike Fisher of the hat-trick late in an Ottawa power play caused by a horrible Rozsival penalty.

As the period continued the play would pick up in spurts, but never really threatened and then Chris Neil took a bonehead penalty charging Ryan Callahan at the bench.  After most of the power play the Rangers showed their normal inept attack it would be a line of Dubinsky, Avery, Prust with the work done mostly by Prust and Avery that would lead to a Michael Sauer PPG.  The goal was Sauer’s 1st NHL goal off a beautiful pass from Brandon Prust that allowed him to step into a low hard slapper that squeaked through Elliot at 14:41  Brandon Dubinsky would add an empty netter at 19:08 after Sergei Gonchar’s awful season would continue when Gonchar literally fell down untouched leaving Dubinsky with the puck.
  • Fedotenko-Stepan-Gaborik played well together and created chances.  Now let’s see them do it two straight
  • Gaborik was much more impactful and threatening in this game which they really need from him.
  • Dubinsky and Callahan have become literally inseparable.  Hopefully Dubinsky’s ENG will get his offense going again
  • Brandon Prust was phenomenal in this game with his backchecking, penalty killing, work in the corners and his pass for the game winner
  • Avery played very well in his limited minutes
  • Frolov played harder though not very smart in his time on the ice
  • The defense was weak tonight as they took bad penalties, did not clear the crease and hung the goalie out on all three goals.  Emminger and Sauer had their positive moments but every defender had bad moments tonight.