Sens ride Big Ben past Rangers
Stellar effort by Bishop leads Ottawa to 4-1 victory
Bruce Garrioch, QMI Agency
|Ottawa Senators Colin Greening battles with New York Rangers Ryan Callahan during first period NHL hockey action at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa on March 8, 2012. (ERROL MCGIHON/QMI AGENCY)
OTTAWA - Big Ben Bishop ended up being a giant-killer Thursday.
Making his home debut in front of 18,553 at Scotiabank Place, the Senators’ new goalie secured his second straight win and helped slay the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers with 25 stops in a 4-1 victory.
“I’m excited. That’s nice,” said Bishop. “Especially against the Rangers. They’re strong and that’s a big two points.”
The Senators closed out the regular season vs. New York with a 3-1 record on the strength of Bishop’s effort along with goals from Jason Spezza (into an empty net), Kyle Turris, Nick Foligno and Zack Smith. Only Ryan Callahan was able to beat Bishop.
Spezza said Bishop was the key.
“Ben has played great,” said Spezza. “He was really calm. I think you’re always more comfortable playing at home. He made some big saves at the right time. It was a big win for us.”
There was no one in the building breathing a bigger sigh of relief than Foligno.
After his last two goals were scored into an empty net, Foligno scored his first on a goalie since Dec. 30. It also turned out to be the winner.
Foligno chuckled at the question, but admitted it was nice to score against an opposing goalie.
“Nice low blow there,” he said with a smile. “It’s good. I’m happy to get the goal for the team. I don’t think I’m cursed in not scoring goals. Hopefully, there’s lots more to come.”
The Senators can feel good that they played a strong third period and shut down the Rangers after giving up way too many opportunities in the first two periods, not getting many shots on Martin Biron, but holding onto the lead.
The shots were 17-7 after two periods. Ottawa had all of three shots in the first period.
Coach Paul MacLean told the players after the second period to pick it up. They responded and were able to shut the door.
“It’s a big two points. The best team in the league. We had a good start and we got some big goals from different guys,” said Spezza. “It was just a good, complete team win. We played more in their end in the third than we did in our own.
“We missed the net a lot in the first two periods. We had the lead, we had a good third and we created a lot of good scoring chances. We’re happy with the result and happy with the way we played.”
You could sense the weight had been lifted off Foligno when he scored his 14th of the season at 18:50 of the first to give the Senators a 2-1 lead.
Smith’s first goal in 13 games had tied it 1-1.
MacLean said it was important 10 players had at least a point.
“We’ve had a balanced attack all year,” said MacLean. “Over 82 games, everybody can’t score every night, but I think the rhythm of our offence has been pretty good. When someone starts to go down, someone else gets hot.”
The Senators didn’t gain any ground in the East, but they hit the 80-point plateau and are inching closer to securing a playoff spot.