New York Rangers looking for a better start on the road in Ottawa

There was New York Rangers head coach at the podium after practice on Saturday, once again fielding questions about his team’s start to games. It’s probably becoming quite tiresome for Gerard Gallant to answer but he understands the concerns are valid.

Despite producing one of their highest shots-on-goal totals, the Rangers retraced a familiar pattern on Thursday against the Red Wings in lieu to a 2-1 shootout loss.

“You have to get yourself prepared, do your workouts, focus on your first shift and things will take care of themselves,” he said.

Rangers looking for a better start against the Senators

After two days off, the Rangers look to start more quickly Sunday when they visit the Ottawa Senators at 5:00 PM.

New York is 3-0-1 in its past four games, all played on home ice. On Thursday, New York earned a point when Mika Zibanejad scored the tying goal midway through the third period, but the Rangers wound up taking a 3-2 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

New York took the loss despite getting 39 shots on goal, its third-highest of the season and highest total since getting 40 shots on goal in a 4-1 win at Anaheim on Jan. 8.

On Thursday, the Rangers were outshot 11-8 in the opening period and fell behind 2:18 into the game. It marked the fourth straight game they were outshot in the first period. In those games, opponents outshot them 48-23 in the opening 20 minutes.

“I think we still need to work on starting games better,” New York’s Barclay Goodrow said. “Right from the beginning, we’re chasing from behind and it’s hard to play like that. If we played the first 20 like we played the last 40, we would have put ourselves in a better spot.”

K’Andre Miller also scored for the Rangers on Thursday when New York produced 31 shots in the final two periods and overtime and dropped to 12-10-3 when allowing the first goal.

Patrik Nemeth day-to-day, lineup should stay the same

new york rangers
Oct 23, 2021; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators center Josh Norris (9) gets tangled with New York Rangers defenseman Patrik Nemeth (12) in the second period at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Patrik Nemeth, who was placed on IR retroactively is eligible to return at any time, practiced on the third pair with Braden Schneider.

When asked if Nemeth could play tomorrow, Gallant replied: “It’s day-to-day. We’ve been speculating for a week and a half and it isn’t fair to anybody.”

According to the NY Post, it’s believed that Nemeth is still dealing with lingering effects after contracting COVID-19 back in December.

Nemeth, 30, has two points in 38 games this season. He last played on January 22, in a 7-3 Rangers win over the Coyotes. If he can’t go, the pairing of Zac Jones and Schneider should stay together.

One potential change could be Alexandar Georgiev getting the start in goal. He has been mentioned recently in trade rumors and may be on the move come the NHL Trade Deadline on March 21.

Senators will be tough

Ottawa is 2-3-1 over its past six games but also a respectable 7-5-2 in its past 14 since a three-game losing streak Jan. 18-22.

The Senators are also looking to break a four-game home losing streak after taking a 3-2 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday night. During its home skid, Ottawa has been outscored 12-4.

Tim Stutzle scored in the second period and Nick Holden netted the tying goal early in the third. Senators coach D.J. Smith thought his team did a lot of positive things in front of a limited-capacity crowd as restrictions were lifted to 50 percent capacity.

“There were a lot of things I was happy with. I thought we turned it over too much, but our compete level was high,” Smith said. “That was probably one of the more physical games we’ve played in the last month. There were big hits and there wasn’t a lot of room out there.”

Ottawa gained the point despite being shorthanded on the blue line as defenseman Thomas Chabot missed his third straight game with an upper-body injury that will likely sideline him again Sunday.

Anton Forsberg made 30 saves in place of Matt Murray, who is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, and Filip Gustavsson will likely make his first start since a 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders on Dec. 7.

Ottawa is 6-2-0 in its past eight home meetings with the Rangers. New York overcame a two-goal deficit in the first meeting when Chris Kreider, Ryan Lindgren and Goodrow scored in the final 5:23 of a 3-2 win on Oct. 23.

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–Field Level Media contributed to this report.