The Ottawa Senators are the worst team in the Eastern Conference, yet the lackadaisical effort in the first two-thirds of the game by the New York Rangers made them look like anything but that. Despite a spirited third period and overtime, the Rangers couldn't manage to eek out the shootout win, falling, 2-1, to the lowly Senators. Despite the loss, the Rangers have earned points in their past six games.
If you watched the prior game against the Florida Panthers, you might've had to double check for the first few periods to make sure you were watching a different game Thursday night -- that's how low energy this was. Through two periods, the Rangers had 14 shots. The only sign of life from New York came after Ryan Shannon netted the game's first goal at 15:21 of the second period; in the period's waning minutes the spark finally started to ignite for the home team.
Brandon Prust's goal off a nifty falling-down feed from Marc Staal less than three minutes into the period carried the energy over and brought back mid-season memories that maybe this could be another third-period comeback. Craig Anderson was sharp in the third period and overtime, however, stopping 15 shots in the game's final 15 minutes.
The Rangers, who elected to go first in the 'Skills Competition,' went 0-for-5 in their shootout attempts -- and Erik Karlsson's wrist shot beat Henrik Lundqvist for the only goal of the competition.
Lundqvist was visibly upset as he skated off the ice -- and it's an emotion his teammates should feel as well. Sure, this was a team playing its season's best hockey in March, but it presented the Blueshirts with a prime opportunity to keep the feel-good vibes rolling. Instead, the Rangers look and see that they've scored two goals against two of the weaker teams in the East.
Regardless, New York did gain a point and sits two points behind Montreal for sixth place in the playoff race, while increasing its lead to four points over Buffalo, which has two games in hand. The sixth-place seed is very much in the Rangers' grasp and they'll have to face the team, the Boston Bruins, they'd battle in the playoffs if they succeeded Montreal in a matinee on Saturday.