Senators-Rangers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 08, 2013
The Rangers hope to keep rolling as their six-game stay in New York ends, but they haven't had much home success against the Ottawa Senators lately. Things could be different this time with the Senators struggling to find wins on the road. New York looks to win its fifth straight overall and snap a five-game regular season home losing streak to Ottawa when the clubs meet on Friday night. After dropping the opener of six straight contests in their home state, the Rangers (12-8-2) captured three consecutive home wins before adding a 2-1 overtime road victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday. The Rangers and Ottawa are tied for the most home wins in the Eastern Conference with nine. They'll try to add to that total with their first regular-season home win over the Senators since Oct. 3, 2009. New York, however, did manage a split of its four home games against Ottawa - including a 2-1 victory in Game 7 - in the first round of last season's playoffs. A visit from the struggling Senators (12-8-4) could be coming at an opportune time. They are 0-2-2 on their five-game swing after winning five straight - four of those at home. "We've had a history of playing well in this building, but we know we're playing a difficult opponent," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. Although they're a conference-best 9-1-2 at home, the Senators have lost nine of their last 10 road contests, including Wednesday's 5-4 defeat at Toronto. Mika Zibanejad scored in that loss, and also had a late game-tying goal in a 3-2 shootout win over the visiting Rangers on Feb. 21. With Craig Anderson still out with a lower-body injury he suffered in that game, the Senators will start either Ben Bishop or Robin Lehner. Ottawa allowed two goals or less in its first five games without Anderson before Bishop gave up five on 28 shots against the Maple Leafs. Bishop, who has started four of the last six games, surrendered two goals on 13 shots in relief of Anderson on Feb. 21 and beat the Rangers 4-1 in his only career start in the series last March. Lehner, who has never faced the Rangers, is 0-0-2 with a 1.87 goals-against average in two starts. Whichever goalie gets the nod, he will have to find a way to contain a New York team that is 8-0-1 in the last nine Rick Nash has played. Nash extended his point streak to eight games (six goals, seven assists) with a game-tying goal late in regulation before Marian Gaborik added the winner in overtime on Thursday. "He's been a huge part to our club as advertised," coach John Tortorella said. "He has been a game-breaker for us, and hopefully that will continue." Tortorella could come right back with Henrik Lundqvist against the Senators after his 27-save performance Thursday. He's 4-0-0 with a 1.47 GAA in his last four games, but has lost both back ends of his two previous back-to-back starts. Lundqvist, who had 35 saves in the first meeting, is 2-5-2 despite a 1.97 GAA in his last nine home starts - including the postseason - against Ottawa.
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