The end result of this play wasn’t reflective of what led to it. Ottawa’s Mark Borowiecki was out cold once he hit his head crashing into the end boards after Brendan Smith’s shoulder-to-shoulder hit.
Borowiecki was eventually helped to his feet and off the ice while Smith was assessed a major interference penalty and game misconduct at 7:32 of the third period. But the Rangers allowed only one shot on goal during the ensuing five-minute power play en route to a 3-0 victory over the Senators Sunday night at the Garden in their first meeting since the Rangers were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs.
Senators coach Guy Boucher said Borowiecki was unconscious on the ice and suffered a concussion, according to the Ottawa Citizen.
Smith said he and Borowiecki had made eye contact before the hit. “He’s a big, strong guy. You see those plays happen all over the ice,” Smith said. “I think it was a little harsh. At worst, two minutes.”
Alain Vigneault felt it “just looked like more of an unfortunate hockey accident than anything else.”
The Rangers (10-9-2) killed off nine minutes worth of Ottawa power-play time for the game, blocking six shots during the five-minute man-advantage in the middle of the third period. Marc Staal blocked three of those six. Brady Skjei blocked one and finished the game with six blocks.
“The focus was there and the determination was there to really kill off every power play,” said Henrik Lundqvist, who made 20 saves for his second shutout of the season. “It set the tone in the first with some big kills.”
Kevin Hayes scored the only goal over the slog that was the first two periods.
(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Kevin Hayes had the only goal through the slog of the first two periods, a top-shelf rip from the right dot. Michael Grabner briefly tied Mika Zibanejad for the team lead in goals with nine at 4:52 of the third when he redirected a Staal shot in the high slot, but Zibanejad scored an empty-netter with 2:29 left — which is how Grabner has scored four of his goals.
Lundqvist made some crucial stops when needed, like his stacked-pads denial of Mike Hoffman late in the first period on a two-on-one.
“That’s old school right there,” Lundqvist said. “I think the last few weeks I have been playing a little more aggressive so my side-to-side movements are sometimes a little longer. I felt like in that situation there was a long way to go so that’s why I decided to go two-pad stack there and it worked out.”
It’s no coincidence that the Rangers have been winning more often as Lundqvist’s form has improved in recent weeks, and his teammates made up for wasting his great effort Friday in Columbus. Over his last five games, Lundqvist has a 2.12 goals-against average and .937 save percentage.
“I think the last couple of weeks we played with a little more urgency and determination because we know we’re in a tough spot,” Lundqvist said. “We can’t let it slide.”