Defensemen Marc Staal and Dan Girardi each scored for the first time in the postseason as the New York Rangers beat the Ottawa Senators 2-1 in the deciding seventh game of their first-round playoff series.
In front of a sold-out crowd of 18,200 at Madison Square Garden in New York, which hadn’t hosted a National Hockey League decider in 18 years, the Rangers took a 2-0 lead midway through the second period and held off the Senators to advance to the second round for first time since 2008.
Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist received a standing ovation after making 26 saves, including nine in a third period played mostly in the Senators’ offensive zone.
Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson made eight saves in the first period, including a pair of point-blank stops on Rangers forwards Marian Gaborik and Carl Hagelin, while Lundqvist had 10 saves, including three on a Senators power play at the end of the period.
The Rangers went ahead four minutes, 46 seconds into the second period as forward Derek Stepan fed a pass to Staal, who beat Anderson. Girardi made it 2-0 four minutes later.
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, who missed three games in the series with a concussion, scored a power play goal 2:30 later and the Rangers held the visiting team scoreless over the final 28:26 to secure the victory.
No Canadian Teams
Ottawa’s elimination leaves Canada without a team in the second round for the first time since 1996. The Vancouver Canucks, the top seed in the Western Conference and the only other Canadian team to qualify for the postseason, lost in five games to the Los Angeles Kings.
Before tonight, the Rangers hadn’t played a Game 7 at Madison Square Garden since 1994, when they clinched their most recent Stanley Cup title on home ice against the Canucks.
The National Basketball Association’s New York Knicks lost 97-95 to the Indiana Pacers in the last Game 7 in a playoff at the arena, in 1995.
The Rangers are now 4-0 in seventh games at Madison Square Garden, with wins in 1992 and 1994 against the New Jersey Devils, and the Stanley Cup-clinching win versus Vancouver. The team has also won its past six series when it held home ice advantage.
New York will next play the seventh-seeded Washington Capitals, who beat the defending-champion Boston Bruins in seven games.
To contact the reporter on this story: Eben Novy-Williams at Madison Square Garden at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at email@example.com