OTTAWA - While the Senators finally received enough offence to win a game, Ottawa's ability to protect a lead proved more difficult.
The New York Rangers came back from a goal down on three occasions and made their only lead of the game stand up in a 5-3 victory Thursday that sent the slumping Senators to their second straight loss and fifth in the past sixth contests.
“We’ve got to show some killer instinct,”said Ottawa defenceman Matt Carkner. "When we get a team down, we’ve got to go after them."
Michael Sauer scored his first career NHL goal with less than six minutes after Erik Christensen tied it for New York on a fluke goal earlier in the third period.
“It’s tough when the puck’s kind of battling you all night,”said Senators goaltender Brian Elliott, who allowed Christensen’s shot from a sharp angle to slip through him after the Senators (12-16-2) led on Mike Fisher’s second goal of the night.
“It goes off the side of the net, pops in a little space. It’s just a tough part of the game…bad puck luck.”
That set the stage for Sauer, a second-year defenceman playing his 27th career game, to take a pass in the slot from Brandon Prust during a Rangers’power play and score the eventual-winner in a game that featured a controversial incident involving Carkner.
Carkner dropped the gloves and fought Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard late in the first period. The fight left Boogaard, who didn’t play another shift after the fight, bloodied and he may have broken his nose during the altercation, said Rangers coach John Tortorella.
On his way to the Senators’dressing room, Carkner skated by the benches and appeared to make a hand gesture at New York’s.
He was assessed a 10-minute misconduct in addition to his fighting penalty. After the game, he admitted that“maybe I made a gesture,”but denied flicking blood from his hand at the Rangers’bench as was suggested by some of the Rangers.
“I heard something like that, that he was swiping blood and flicking it our guys, I’m not sure 100 per cent,”Rangers centre Brandon Dubinsky said.
“He skated and wiped his brow twice and flicked it at us. I don’t know why, but that’s what happened,”New York centre Brian Boyle said when asked about the incident.“I don’t know how to react, I don’t know what to say. It’s not my place to have to react, I guess, but I was really surprised.”
The Senators’mentality also came into question on the winning goal. It came after a bad penalty to Chris Neil, who was called for charging after running over New York’s Ryan Callahan in front of the benches during a line change.
“That was a nice one, for sure, especially at that time of the game,”Sauer said.“It’s something you’re always going to remember. At every level, you always remember your first one and getting that one, it’s great that it was a game-winning goal, too.”
Derek Stepan, Ruslan Fedotenko and Dubinsky, into an empty net, had the other goals for the Rangers (17-12-1). Marian Gaborik and Michal Rozsival each added a pair of assists.
Henrik Lundqvist stopped 24 shots to improve to 5-0 in his last five trips to the nation’s capital.
New York improved to an NHL-best 11-4-0 on the road and earned a measure of revenge after losing 3-1 at home to the Senators on Sunday.
“That was a really good effort, coming back three times,”Lundqvist said.“We were determined to win this after a tough loss at home where they got the really late goal there. It felt really good the way we responded.”
The Senators have been under the gun to produce more offence.
They are 4-9-1 in their last 14 before Thursday night and had scored just 21 goals during that stretch, including only 17 goals in the previous 12 games. Their win over the Rangers on Sunday was their only triumph in the previous five games and the only time Ottawa had managed to score more than a goal over that stretch.
So when Fisher scored on the power play in the first, and Jason Spezza added another on a man advantage early in the second before Fisher scored again, the Senators appeared to be on their way to turning things around.
But the Rangers kept hanging around. They took less than two minutes to tie the game after Fisher’s opener in the first and just 69 seconds to draw level following Spezza’s goal in the second.
Fisher, who had a would-be goal called back after a video review overruled the on-ice officials when his shot hit the crossbar and post behind Lundqvist, converted a breakaway midway through the second to make it 3-2. But the Rangers came back again through Christensen’s goal 3 1/2 minutes into the third.
Sauer’s turnover in front of his own net in the first had led to Fisher’s opening goal, so he redeemed himself by giving New York the lead and, with Elliott pulled in favour of the extra attacker, Dubinsky scored into an empty net after Sergei Gonchar turned over the puck in the neutral zone.
Notes: The Senators don’t have much time to rest before their next game. They play host to the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.…The Rangers made sophomore defenceman Michael Del Zotto, who’s played every game so far this season, a healthy scratch.…Attendance at Scotiabank Place was 16,324.