OTTAWA — Ben Bishop stood tall, figuratively and in stature, on Thursday.
The six-foot-seven goaltender was visibly pleased with his 24-save shutout in the Ottawa Senators’ 3-0 win over the New York Rangers.
“It’s nice when you get the win, especially against a good team like that which has a lot of good players,” said Bishop in the Senators’ dressing room. “I thought the guys in front of me played unbelievable and they kept a lot of their shots to the outside and also scored a couple of goals.”
In the Rangers’ locker-room, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was slumped in his stall.
“I don’t know what to say. I have a few thoughts but I don’t think it’s going to help our group right now. Bottom line is it’s not good enough and we’re not going to make it if..,” Lundqvist said, letting his thought trail off. “We need everybody right now and we need top plays and smart plays for 60 minutes.
“We’re playing teams that are working really hard and we have to match it. If we’re not matching it we’re not going to win.”
Such was the tale of two goaltenders. One having just recorded his first shutout of the season while his club climbs the Eastern Conference standings. The other frustrated at another loss in a troubled season for a club scratching to make the playoffs.
Andre Benoit scored the winner Ottawa (19-9-6). Guillaume Latendresse and Colin Greening, into an empty net, also scored, while Mika Zibanejad and Chris Neil chipped in with two assists each.
Lundqvist made 26 saves for the Rangers (16-14-3).
Trailing 1-0, the Rangers applied heavy pressure midway through the third period but Bishop was unflappable, throwing his body in front of a Ryan McDonagh shot and using the shaft of his stick to block another.
“I realized I was in big trouble and I kind of thought that (McDonagh) had that short side so at the last second I dove over there and got a piece of it,” Bishop said.
When the Senators finally relieved the pressure after about a minute, they went down ice and Latendresse beat Lundqvist with a low shot from the faceoff circle. Greening scored into an empty net with just over two minutes to play.
“That’s something the coach talks about, that when a team puts pressure, just settle down, don’t panic and get to your position and good things will happen,”
Latendresse said. “They put a lot of pressure in the third and I thought they played well, so we were happy that goal went in, but it could have come from anyone else the way we played.
“Everybody played pretty well.”
The Senators had the only goal of the opening two periods in a game that was, for the most part, void of scoring chances.
Benoit let loose a point shot that found the back of the net in the final minute with Anton Stralman in the penalty box for tripping.
Lundqvist was visibly upset with McDonagh immediately following the goal. Not only did Lundqvist not see the shot, but he took an elbow to the head from his defenceman just before the puck went in.
McDonagh was in between Lundqvist and Ottawa forward Neil battling for position in front of the net.
Neil won that battle to help the Senators take a 1-0 lead and leave Lundqvist frustrated.
“It was such a big goal in the game and it’s so important for us to get it done on the PK and we’re not,” Lundqvist said.
“We tried to get out of the period with a tie game and instead they get that one. I talked about it the other night that if we’re losing special teams (battles) we’ll have a tough time winning games. It’s really disappointing and I’m going to leave it at that.”
With the New York Islanders shootout win over Philadelphia Thursday, the Rangers now find themselves tied with the Islanders for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
The Senators are fifth in the Eastern Conference two points back of the Boston Bruins.
Notes: Darroll Powe and Matt Gilroy were scratches for the Rangers Thursday while Mike Lundin and Peter Regin sat for the Senators. a The Senators swept the three-game season series with the Rangers with a 3-2 shootout win in New York and wins of 3-2 and 1-0 at home. a The Rangers entered Thursday’s game with the fewest penalty minutes per game average in the NHL at 9.9. a Centre Brian Boyle played in his 300th NHL game Thursday, and 264th with the Rangers. a The Senators are 3-0-0 against the Rangers. a The Senators own the league’s best home record at 13-2-3. a The Senators entered Thursday’s game with an NHL best 2.06 goals against per game.