For the New York Rangers, the first three games of their road trip are about finding ways to win, whether it is getting dominant goaltending or timely goals.
So far, things are going well for the Rangers, who look to cap an undefeated road trip Saturday afternoon when they visit the Ottawa Senators.
New York Rangers getting clutch scoring and goaltending
The trip opened with the Rangers getting a clutch goal from Alexis Lafreniere shortly after the Montreal Canadiens scored the tying goal in the third period. That was followed by a 40-save performance from Igor Shesterkin and an overtime game-winner by Artemi Panarin for a 2-1 win in Toronto on Monday.
On Thursday, the Rangers notched their third straight win when Lafreniere scored the tiebreaking goal with 9:07 remaining and Shesterkin made 28 saves for a 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators. New York did just enough in a game when it hit three posts, went 0-for-4 on the power play and the top line of Panarin, Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider combined for 11 shots on goal without scoring.
“It was more of a complete team game, and as a coach, that’s what you like to see,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “Our goalie was really good, but he didn’t have to be all-world for us tonight.”
The Rangers were without Ryan Strome, who is on the COVID-19 list, and it led to Lafreniere being moved to the second line with Filip Chytil and Sammy Blais. That trio combined for two goals and three assists.
New York’s undefeated start to its trip has given it seven points through the first five games for its best start since getting eight points in the first five contests of the 2009-10 season.
Shesterkin, who enters Saturday with 122 saves and a .953 save percentage, has played a huge role in the start.
Senators trying to get going
Ottawa has sandwiched 3-2 wins over Toronto and Dallas with a pair of close losses, though, unlike the Rangers, its power play has not faltered. The Senators went 4-for-10 with the man advantage through their first three games before going 0-for-3 in a 2-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.
The game marked the season debut of Brady Tkachuk, who agreed to a new contract after holding out for the first three games. Tkachuk got the primary assist on a goal by Drake Batherson and played 19:39 while being reunited with linemates Batherson and Josh Norris
“It would have been better with the win,” Tkachuk said. “That was the one thing on my mind. You can take some positives and negatives from each game. I just want to get better from the negatives and improve every day.”
Goaltender Matt Murray also made his season debut after sitting out the first three games with the flu and had 22 saves after Anton Forsberg and Filip Gustavsson combined for a .937 save percentage in the first three games.
Ottawa lost Shane Pinto to an apparent shoulder injury. He was injured after taking a hard hit near the boards in the first period. Pinto did not return after the second and could miss Saturday’s game.
Saturday is the first meeting between the teams since Ottawa’s 4-1 home win on Nov. 22, 2019. The Senators are 9-4-0 in the past 13 meetings and have won six of the past seven meetings in Ottawa.
Jack Eichel is moving on from a trade in order to focus on getting his surgery. More here.
–Field Level Media