Revenge is sweet. And the New York Rangers want to taste it Wednesday night when they travel to take on the Ottawa Senators (7:30 p.m. EST, MSG+) at Scotiabank Place. The Blueshirts (7-3-3) squandered a three-goal, third-period lead and fell in a shootout the last time these two teams met. It was also New York's last loss as they've won four straight since. Ottawa (7-7-1) has gone 1-2-1 over its past four battles since their impressive comeback victory at Madison Square Garden.
It's only been 11 days, but this Rangers team is different from the one that last played the Sens. The Blueshirts have tightened up on defense, allowing six goals in their last four games, and they've had a variety of guys chip in on the scoresheet. There's no doubt that Ottawa has been a nice story early this season, but which is the real team? They began the year with five losses in their first six games, won six straight, and are now in the midst of a three-game losing streak. It's very likely they've played above their talent level, but this is no team to take lightly.
Both Ottawa and New York are rank middle of the pack in scoring, but huge difference -- stats wise -- is goaltending and defense. The Sens are second to last in goals against per game, allowing 3.60, while New York has been stingy, allowing the third-least amount, 2.08, in the NHL. The Senators have the third-best power play, while the the Rangers' has struggled with only eight goals in 59 chances. New York needs to stay out of the box as the Jason Spezza-Milan Michalek duo will only become more dangerous. It could be a good time for the power play to get going, though, as the home team ranks No. 25 in penalty-kill percentage.
The keys to the game are pretty simple, but Ottawa showed how hard it is to do when they came back in New York: contain Spezza and Michalek. With Daniel Alfredsson now out with a concussion after Wojtek Wolski's errant elbow, the offense is significantly worse, but the Rangers' blueline needs to stay strong and keep things simple. They've been surprisingly superb during this streak. The Blueshirts need to get shots on goal and continue with the same offensive pace they've exhibited over the past half-dozen games. Sens' starting goalie Craig Anderson has a 3.50 goals-against average and a .888 save percentage this year.