The New York Rangers showed Thursday night against the Ottawa Senators just what happens when your top two scoring lines can't get anything going. The result was a 3-0 loss on home ice to the streaking Senators who are proving that they are a team to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference. The Sens, with 54 points, are four behind the Rangers, but they've played four more games.
Coach John Tortorella broached the issue of his top-six guys not doing enough, saying: "Our grinders, our role players played well but we got squat out of top guys," as quoted by The Record's Andrew Gross.
The frustrating part for the Rangers in their first loss in their last six games was that they generated good first looks. But they rarely got follow-up chances as netminder Craig Anderson, 34 saves, and the Ottawa defenders tied the Rangers up at the crease, preventing them from getting to second (and third) chances.
Despite being held scoreless, the Rangers had an excellent first period, but could (obviously) not get anything past Anderson. It was indicative of the entire game, as they outshot the Sens 13-8 and 34-24 in the game. But the Sens would convert on all their prime chances, and New York would be done in by some bad luck and great goaltending. It was the type of game that if the Rangers got one, they'd get a few, but became frustrated by the end and their deficit snowballed.
Jason Spezza scored twice in the win (midway through the second and later in the third), while Milan Michalek potted his 23rd in the third period. In making only 21 saves, Henrik Lundqvist wasn't his sharpest, but was also the victim of some lackadaisical defensive efforts -- light stick-checking instead of going hard at the puck on the goals.
The loss is nothing for the Rangers to get down about, as it was only their second in 12 games. But it is something to adjust from, and one of those may be tinkering with the lines for the next game at the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. New York's ineffective power play continues to torment them as well, as they went 0-for-4 in this one and are nearing the bottom-third of the league in man-advantage percentage.