(Sports Network) - The top-seeded New York Rangers will try to take a 2-0 lead
in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinals when they host the
Ottawa Senators tonight at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers, winners of the Atlantic Division title, used a strong performance
from their star goaltender in winning the opener of this series in 4-2 fashion
on Thursday night.
New York, which claimed its first division title and No. 1 seed since winning
its last Stanley Cup title in 1994, led Game 1 by a 4-0 score at one point,
and despite allowing two late goals, Henrik Lundqvist turned in an impressive
performance, stopping 30-of-32 shots.
"It's exciting, it's fun. You go out there and feel the support [from the
fans], that's why you play," said Lundqvist. "It's really fun to go out there,
especially after you pull off a big win in the first game."
Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Brian Boyle and Ryan Callahan all scored for
New York, which is looking for its first playoff series victory since 2008.
"I thought a number of guys, not just the big guys, but I thought a number of
guys contributed," said New York head coach John Tortorella. "We didn't lose
ourselves. We were fore-checking pretty good, they pinched hard, they had us
bottled up, but we stayed within ourselves and found our game, the way we
play. We found a way."
Meanwhile, Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson was tagged for all four goals on
31 shots for the Senators, who have made the playoffs just twice since going
to the Cup Finals in 2007 and have lost in the opening round both times. This
marks the first time the Rangers and Senators are meeting in the playoffs.
Daniel Alfredsson and Erik Condra scored in the second half of the third
period to keep the game from being a rout.
"We were pretty pleased with the way things went in the first period and
thought we were generating some chances in the second period," said Ottawa
head coach Paul MacLean. "But there was those last couple of minutes in the
second where we made some mistakes and it killed us."
The Senators get a chance to even the series tonight before it shifts to
Ottawa for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Wednesday, respectively. The Sens
actually had a slightly better record on the road this season, going 21-14-6
as the guest compared to a 20-17-4 mark at Scotiabank Place. Meanwhile, the
Rangers were 27-12-2 at MSG in 2011-12 and 24-12-5 on the road.
"The feeling is still up," Ottawa forward Jason Spezza told his club's
official web site. "You have to be prepared to lose games in the playoffs and
we're not going to win them all. We're still optimistic we can make this a
series and beat these guys. We've just got to play a little bit better."
The Rangers haven't won a playoff round since ousting New Jersey in the 2008
conference quarterfinals and the Blueshirts have since lost four straight
Ottawa won three of four matchups against the Rangers during the regular
season and the Sens took the final two encounters by a combined 7-1 margin.
The Sports Network