With two of the hottest teams in the NHL meeting head-to-head Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, something had to give. Unfortunately for the Rangers it was their five-game winning streak that came to a screeching halt as they dropped a 3-0 decision to the Ottawa Senators, who are now 7-0-1 in their last eight games.
The defeat was only the tenth in regulation this season for the Blueshiorts, who reached the official midpoint of 2011-12 by playing their 41st game Thursday night. Four of those ten defeats for the Rangers have been by shutout.
After a scoreless first period in which the Rangers outshot Ottawa 13-8 and controlled large stretches of play with a physical brand of hockey, the game swung slowly in the favor of the Senators, who played better as the game moved along.
Jason Spezza scored 8:54 into the second period on a screened snap shot from the left-wing circle to break the scoreless tie. Then after Milan Michalek's 23rd goal 13:58 into the third period made it 2-0 in favor of Ottawa, Spezza put the Rangers away by tapping his own power play rebound past Henrik Lundqvist with 4:27 left to play for his 18th goal of the season.
Anderson finished with 34 saves to record his first shutout of the season as Ottawa won for the second time on Garden ice this season. Lundqvist stopped 21 of 24 shots for the Rangers. The loss snapped Lundqvist's personal seven-game winning streak.
Brian Boyle was lauded by head coach John Tortorella for his strong play following the game. Boyle logged just under 20 minutes of ice-time, tied for the team lead with four shots on goal, and was credited with a game-high eight hits. Boyle and linemates Ruslan Fedotenko and Carl Hagelin combined for nine of the Rangers 34 shots, and were consistently strong hanging on to the puck in the offensive zone.
Wojtek Wolski returned to the lineup after a 29-game absence, with Brandon Dubinsky sidelined by a sore shoulder. Wolski fired three shots on goal while playing 14 minutes and 50 seconds.