Gameday Preview: Rangers at Senators

This afternoon’s game marks the first time that the Rangers and Senators have met this season.

New York Rangers (25-21-3)
@
Ottawa Senators (21-18-9)
Canadian Tire Centre: 2:00 pm ET
Television: CBC

Backstory…

This afternoon’s game marks the first time that the Rangers and Senators have met this season.

Since eliminating the Senators in seven games during their 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals series, the Rangers have yet to beat them.

The Rangers lost all three games last season by a combined score of 8-4 – not including Ottawa’s team goal awarded in their 3-2 shootout win over the Rangers on February 21, 2013.

Storylines…

After blowing a third period lead and losing their Thursday night game to the Montreal Canadiens in overtime, the Senators will be looking to get back into the win column.

The Rangers are coming off a 1-0 shutout victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night that vaulted them into third place in the Metropolitan Division. Despite this leap in the standings, the Rangers are amongst the handful of teams, like Ottawa, that are in the vicinity of the teams occupying the Eastern Conference’s two wild spots.

Fortunately for both teams, they are both enjoying some of their best hockey of the season. The Senators have only lost once in regulation in their past ten games and the Rangers are 7-2-1 in their last ten.

Considering this game’s importance, it is somewhat intriguing to hear reports out of New York that head coach Alain Vigneault has elected to use backup goaltender Cam Talbot as today’s starting goaltender.

Talbot’s enjoyed an incredible start to his NHL career. In 14 appearances, he has put together a 9-3-0 record and some brilliant peripherals – like his .938 save percentage and 1.66 goals against average.

It is worth mentioning however that Talbot has not started a game since New York’s stunning 7-1 dismantling of the Toronto Maple Leafs on January 4th.

He will need to be sharp to keep Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur off of the scoresheet — Turris has goals in four consecutive games and MacArthur has six goals in his last seven games.

Interesting Stat #1

According to Hockey-Reference.com, the Rangers have used other goaltenders – Kevin Weeks (twice), Stephen Valiquette and Martin Biron – four times in the 31 games that they have played against the Ottawa Senators since Henrik Lundqvist broke into the league during the 2005-06 season.

The Rangers lost all four of them.

Interesting Stat #2

The last New York Rangers goaltender to beat Ottawa, other than Lundqvist, was Jussi Markkanen on November 23, 2003.

The Rangers won that game 6-2 and Markkanen made 23 saves on 25 shots for the victory.

Jan Hlavac, Bobby Holik, Alex Kovalev, Brian Leetch, Petr Nedved and Martin Rucinsky all scored goals on Patrick Lalime and Daniel Alfredsson and Wade Redden responded for the Senators.

Interesting Stat #3

With a goal and two assists versus Montreal, Erik Karlsson had his thirteenth career game in which he registered three or more points. Typically, with these kinds of offensive contributions, the Senators have fared quite well, but with Ottawa’s overtime loss, it was only the third time that the Senators have lost when Karlsson has tallied three points (10-2-1 record).

Interesting Stat #4

Per Stats Inc, “The Rangers are 20-3-1 (.854%) when scoring the game’s first goal this season. They have opened the game’s scoring in five of their last seven contests, and each of their last three.”

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