Published April 05, 2014
(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Rangers hope to clinch a playoff spot when they shoot for a third win in four games in Saturday's home test against the Ottawa Senators.
New York had a two-game win streak snapped Thursday in Colorado, but still picked up a valuable point in the 3-2 shootout loss. Now the Rangers only need to get one point in Saturday's game to lock up their fourth straight trip to the postseason.
With 91 points, New York is currently four ahead of Philadelphia for second place in the Metropolitan Division and six points in front of fourth-place Columbus. The top three teams in each division earn automatic bids to the postseason, while the remaining two berths in each conference are awarded via wild cards.
New York also could clinch a playoff berth if both Toronto and New Jersey lose Saturday in their respective games against Winnipeg and Carolina.
The Rangers have outscored Ottawa by a combined 12-5 margin in two meetings in 2013-14 and they'll try to complete a season sweep of the Senators on Saturday. New York halted a five-game slide in the series with a 4-1 win in Ottawa on Jan. 18 and posted another road win over the Sens on March 18, notching a season-high in goals with an 8-4 triumph.
Ottawa, however, has won six straight and 12 of its last 14 games against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
New York coughed up a lead late in regulation in Thursday's loss against the Avalanche. The Blueshirts carried a 2-1 lead into the third period and the score stayed that way until Tyson Barrie tied it for Colorado with 51.4 seconds remaining in regulation. Barrie also provided the lone score of the shootout to hand the 3-2 decision to the home team.
Mats Zuccarello, Martin St. Louis and Brad Richards all failed to beat Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov in the shootout.
John Moore and Derek Stepan lit the lamp for New York, while Henrik Lundqvist turned aside 35-of-37 shots through overtime.
The shootout loss gave New York a 2-1-1 mark during a four-game road trip.
"It was a good road trip, we played really well in a lot of games and got some big points," Lundqvist said. "I like the way we battled."
New York is home for three straight games before closing its regular-season slate in Montreal on April 12. The Rangers have been better at home than on the road this season, going 18-16-4 at Madison Square Garden compared to a 25-14-1 mark as the guest.
Lundqvist expects to get the start on Saturday. The veteran is 12-14-3 with a 2.14 goals against average and .929 save percentage in 30 career games against the Senators.
Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh will miss his second straight game after suffering a bruised left shoulder in Tuesday's win over Vancouver. McDonagh, who leads New York defensemen in both goals (14) and assists (29), is expected to miss at least a week of action.
Ottawa, meanwhile, is seven points out of a playoff spot in the East and the club's fading postseason chances were dealt a crushing blow in Friday's home loss against Montreal. The Sens led 3-0 less than six minutes into the game, but dropped a 7-4 decision to the Canadiens.
Zack Smith scored twice and Ales Hemsky once in the first-period burst for the Senators, who have lost two in a row after winning three straight. Mika Zibanejad added a goal and an assist in defeat.
Craig Anderson failed to hold the generous three-goals cushion, taking the loss by yielding all seven scores on 23 shots.
"It's hard to say that we stopped playing, but we didn't play the game we wanted to," Smith admitted. "We gave them too many chances, they had a lot of room in front of the net and a couple of box-outs ... the list goes on."
Ottawa has four teams between it and Columbus for the last playoff spot in the East.