OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) Craig Anderson and the Ottawa Senators are happy to be home.
Anderson made 27 saves to stop his seven-game losing streak and Ottawa snapped its five-game skid Wednesday night with a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers.
”I think when that final buzzer went there was a sigh from a lot of people, fans included,” Senators forward Zack Smith said. ”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.”
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Bobby Ryan, Cody Ceci and Smith scored for the Senators (10-13-7), who returned from a seven-game road trip and improved to 2-10-2 in their past 14 overall.
It was only their second victory in regulation since Nov. 11, which was the last time Anderson had won.
”Probably not enough traffic,” New York defenseman Ryan McDonagh lamented. ”We had a lot of shots but he saw a lot of them. … He played really well.”
Michael Grabner and Pavel Buchnevich scored for the Rangers (16-12-3), who dropped to 4-7-0 on the road. Henrik Lundqvist had 27 saves, becoming the 15th goalie in NHL history to reach 20,000 for his career.
”Their first two goals, we didn’t make the plays through the neutral zone and they came back to make us pay, and there’s no doubt that early goal in the third really hurt us,” New York coach Alain Vigneault said.
”It’s a tough league. Every game is different. Tonight we had, I felt, a real strong game plan. (But) we weren’t able to make them pay for their mistakes.”
Ottawa, which eliminated the Rangers in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs last season, was coming off a 3-2 loss at last-place Buffalo on Tuesday night.
”It feels good to win,” Anderson said. ”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.
”We’ve had a lot of those games that were just as good, but just didn’t turn for us,” coach Guy Boucher said. ”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 Senators took a 3-1 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.
”I think it had more to do with execution than confidence,” Vigneault said. ”We gave up an early goal in the first, early goal in the third. We know this team well and how they defend.”
The Rangers trimmed the deficit back to one 4 1/2 minutes later as Buchnevich scored his 11th, beating Anderson with a one-timer. Chris Kreider picked up his 200th career point on the play.
New York pulled Lundqvist with just more than a minute remaining, but the Senators were able to hold on.
”We needed something,” Ryan said. ”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.”
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 two games.
”That’s five games in a row where Duchene is really good,” Boucher said. ”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.”
The Rangers tied it 1-all at 3:57 of the second due in large 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 early in the first period when he took a pass from Mark Stone and beat Lundqvist with a one-timer for his second of the season.
”It’s a game where we thought we had the puck on our stick a lot and controlling a lot of possession, but at the same time you have to stay mentally prepared and sharp for their forecheck, too,” McDonagh said. ”Kind of lackadaisical off the start and it cost us a big goal.”
NOTES: It was the first time in six games that the Senators scored the opening goal. … Senators RW Alex Burrows was a late scratch and was replaced by Nick Paul, who was recalled from AHL Belleville earlier in the day.
Rangers: Host the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night.
Senators: Host the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.