NHL

No. 8 Senators stun Rangers in Game 5

Watch highlights of the Senators’ 2-0 win over the Rangers in Game 5.
Watch highlights of the Senators’ 2-0 win over the Rangers in Game 5.
Share This Story

Sam Gardner

Sam Gardner is a general assignment writer for FOXSports.com. Originally from Orlando, Fla., he previously covered the Orlando Magic for FOX Sports Florida and has also covered the NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Finals and MLB playoffs. Follow him on Twitter.

MORE>>
   
 

NEW YORK

Ottawa spent the first four games of its Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the New York Rangers playing from behind, but on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden the Senators finally decided enough was enough.

The No. 8 seed Sens flipped the script and scored early, then held on for the final two periods, earning a hard-fought 2-0 win over the top-seeded Rangers and taking an improbable 3-2 series lead. The series now heads back to Ottawa, where the Senators, on Monday, can become the 10th No. 8 seed in NHL history to knock off a No. 1 seed in the first round.

“For us we did a great job of just coming out and having a great start,” said Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson, who had 41 saves in his second career playoff shutout. “We talked about having a good start after what happened last game, and that was kind of key to our success, learning how to play with the lead.”

After failing to get on the board first, or even hold a regulation lead, in any of the first four games of the series — the only two Senators leads of the series came on game-winning goals in overtime — Ottawa took a 1-0 lead on Jason Spezza’s goal with 10:42 left in the first period.

The goal, which was just the second for Spezza in his last 20 playoff games, provided a huge boost for a Senators team that was playing, once again, without captain Daniel Alfredsson, who was sidelined with a concussion for the third straight game — the result of an elbow to the head from Rangers rookie Carl Hagelin in Game 2.

“We’ve been a resilient bunch all year, nobody’s given us much of a chance, and it’s definitely something you can rally behind as a group,” Spezza said. “It’s a huge loss to have Alfie out. He’s our captain, and we’re a much better team with him in the lineup, but I think the guys have a never-say-die approach, and we’re not going to let it phase us.”

NHL Playoff Central

NHL PLAYOFFS

Stay up to date with all the NHL's latest at Playoff Central.

Spezza later added an empty-net goal late in the third period, and Anderson made 15 saves in the final frame to seal the win.

Anderson, who some suspected would be Ottawa's weak link in this series, has been marvelous, allowing just five goals in his last four games and stopping 66 straight shots since falling behind 2-0 in the first period of Game 4 — a span of more than 116 minutes of shutout hockey.

“He’s been playing well,” said Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who had 28 saves Saturday. “We have to keep working, and have to keep pushing ourselves to play even better and get a little more involved in front of the net.”

Unfortunately, if the Rangers are going to regain their touch on offense and force a Game 7, they may have to do it without their most consistent player in the series so far in Brian Boyle, who fell victim to the latest controversial hit of what has been an extremely physical series.

With 14:39 left in the third period, Boyle, who scored three goals in the first four games, missed a wrist shot wide of the net and was met almost immediately by Chris Neil, who threw a shoulder into the forward, knocking him to the ice.

After the game, a heated Rangers coach John Tortorella called the check a “dangerous, cheap hit” and reported that Boyle — who was jumped by Ottawa tough guy Matt Carkner early in Game 2 and also fought with Neil later in that game — had suffered a concussion as a result.

“They have a blueprint; it’s probably the exact same hit as (Raffi) Torres, just a different part of the ice,” Tortorella said, referring to the Phoenix Coyotes winger’s hit on Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa in Game 3 of their Western Conference series.

“He launches himself, headshot, puck’s at the goal line when he’s hit. So the blueprint’s there. I’m sure he’s a repeat offender too. Not too much research to be done there.”

Torres was later suspended 25 games for his hit, but Neil’s check did not appear to be as blatant as Torres’ and, like Torres, Neil was not penalized for the hit during the game. Neil, however, is not a repeat offender, as Tortorella claimed, and argued that he thought the hit was legal.

“He cuts to the middle with his head down, obviously I’m putting back pressure and trying to bust back and get in good position,” Neil said. “I’m a physical player out there, and I think it was a clean hit.

“Obviously he was slow getting up but I think I probably just knocked the wind out of him, I caught him right in the chest. He’s a big man and it takes a lot out of me giving those hits too.”

With or without Boyle, the Rangers will need to show up with a better offensive effort Monday if they want to force a deciding game at the Garden. And to do it, they’ll have to figure out a way to get the puck in the net. Over the last three games, Anderson and the Senators have allowed just one even-strength goal.

“I feel better about the team after tonight’s game than a couple of wins that we’ve had,” Tortorella said. “So we go to Ottawa and have to try to play the same way and keep banging away and see if we can score some goals. … That’s why it’s a series. They have to win four.”

Ottawa, meanwhile, doesn’t expect the Rangers to roll over and is under no impression that the series is over just because they have a lead.

“We know that we’re going to get their best,” Spezza said. “The toughest game is to put a team out of the playoffs, so we can enjoy this one for all of 10 minutes then get refocused. We know they’re the best team in the East and they’re going to give us their best game in Game 6.”

“We’ll enjoy it on the plane ride home, but as soon as the sun comes up tomorrow, it’s all business again,” said Anderson. “You play 82 games during the regular season to get to this opportunity and get to this point, and you want to feel that success and want to continue with it. Just because you get there doesn’t mean you’ve got to be satisfied, and right now we’ve got to keep pushing forward.”

Follow Sam Gardner on Twitter: @sam_gardner

Tagged: Rangers, Senators, Coyotes, Raffi Torres, Chris Neil, Jason Spezza, Craig Anderson, Brian Boyle

More Stories From Sam Gardner

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



Play Hockey Simulation Game on WhatIfSports

NHL Videos

Toews, Kane: Easy decision to resign with Blackhawks Posted: Jul 17, 2014
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane say their decision to sign matching 8-year, $84M...

LA mayor 'F-bombs' Kings rally Posted: Jun 17, 2014
Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti toasts the Stanley Cup champion Kings in front o...

Kings, fans celebrate Stanley Cup Posted: Jun 16, 2014
Kings players celebrate winning the Stanley Cup with a parade through downtown L...

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Pittsburgh_Penguins/browse/featuredproduct/175178/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_175000/FF_175178_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black
    Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Dallas_Stars/browse/featuredproduct/243363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_243000/FF_243363_xl.jpg&w=100 124.95 Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey
    Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Tampa_Bay_Lightning/browse/featuredproduct/301017/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_301000/ff_301017_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Anaheim_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/398322/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_398000/FF_398322_xl.jpg&w=100 43.99 Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Red_Wings/browse/featuredproduct/403205/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_403000/FF_403205_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack
    Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Chicago_Blackhawks/browse/featuredproduct/408123/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_408000/FF_408123_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey
    Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_Jersey_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/456774/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_456000/ff_456774_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Vancouver_Canucks/browse/featuredproduct/665779/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_665000/ff_665779_xl.jpg&w=100 11.95 Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick
    Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Islanders/browse/featuredproduct/752594/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_752000/ff_752594_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt