Early third-period goal lifts Senators over Rangers

Zack Smith’s goal holds up as the winner as the winner and the Ottawa Senators defeated the New York Rangers.

OTTAWA — The Ottawa Senators are happy to be home.

Coming off a disastrous seven-game, 15-day road trip, the Senators made the most of home ice as they snapped a five-game losing streak Wednesday night with a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers.

The victory was just Ottawa’s second in regulation since Nov. 11. There was no denying the sense of relief when the final horn sounded.

"I think when that final buzzer went there was a sigh from a lot of people, fans included," said Zack Smith, who’s third-period goal held as the winner. "It was a good feeling. They’re a good team over there with a good goaltender so it was a big confidence boost for us."

Bobby Ryan and Cody Ceci also scored for the Senators (10-13-7). Craig Anderson, with 27 saves, ended a personal seven-game losing streak and picked up his first win since Nov. 11.

"It feels good to win," said Anderson. "After what we went through I think coming home and putting on the effort we did and getting the results we wanted it’s a good feeling in here."

For the first time since Dec. 1 the Senators scored first and played the entire game with a lead. It clearly made a difference.

During their brutal stretch, the Senators had games where they played well, but seemed to lose all confidence after giving up the first goal and were forced to chase the game.

"We’ve had a lot of those games that were just as good, but just didn’t turn for us," said head coach Guy Boucher. "Back at home, for the first time in a long while, you could feel the freshness, what you should feel at home and because of that our players got the energy and we got the first goal and I thought we defended great. I thought our goalie was outstanding and all our lines were good."

The victory is a much-needed spark during a very bleak time.

"We needed something," said Ryan. "We were at the point where moral victories weren’t really adding up for us so we needed to find a way to get two points and you hope that this becomes a stepping point."

Michael Grabner and Pavel Buchnevich scored for the Rangers (16-12-3) as Henrik Lundqvist stopped 27 shots.

Ottawa took a two-goal lead just eight seconds into the third period as Tom Pyatt, from behind the net, found Smith in front to score his second of the season.

The Rangers cut the lead back to one four minutes later as Buchnevich scored his 11th, beating Anderson with a one-timer. Chris Kreider picked up his 200th career point on the play.

The Rangers pulled Lundqvist with just over one minute remaining, but the Senators were able to hold on for the win.

Ottawa regained the lead late in the second after Matt Duchene showed some great patience before finding Ceci wide open for his second goal in as many games.

"That’s five games in a row where Duchene is really good," said Boucher. "You can really see him picking it up and feeling it and the guys getting to know him too so that’s the chemistry you have to build."

Trailing 1-0 the Rangers were able to tie the game at the three-minute mark of the second due in great part to some poor defensive coverage by Erik Karlsson.

Mats Zuccarello was able to find Grabner who got in behind Karlsson and beat Anderson from in close.

Ryan opened the scoring for the Senators early in the first period as he was able to take a pass from Mark Stone and beat Lundqvist with a one-timer for just his second goal of the season. This marked the first time the Senators opened the scoring in six games

Notes: Senators RW Alex Burrows was a late scratch and replaced by Nick Paul who was recalled from AHL Belleville earlier in the day. Lundqvist became the 15th goaltender in NHL history to reach 20,000 career saves during this game.


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