NEW YORK (AP) — Chris Kreider scored twice, Artemi Panarin scored a goal and two assists as the New York Rangers secured their first postseason berth since 2017 as the Ottawa Senators beat the Ottawa Senators 5-1 on Saturday night.
Ryan Strom and Andrew Copp also had goals and Igor Shesterkin needed just 21 saves to thwart the Senators as the rising Rangers improved to 7–1–1 in their last nine with Carolina on 100 points in the Metropolitan Division. went into a tie with.
Rangers have nine games left, while Hurricanes have 10. The teams meet on Tuesday night in New York, when Carolina hosts Anaheim on Sunday.
“It feels great. … We accomplished that,” said first-year Rangers coach Gerard Gallant. “From start to finish, it was an excellent game. We came to the rink to win and get to the playoffs.”
Joining Henrik Lundquist, Ed Giacomin and Mike Richter, Shusterkin improved to 34–10–4, becoming the fourth goalkeeper in franchise history with 34 wins in a season.
“Shesti was really fast,” Gallant said.
Rangers continued their stellar run at home, improving 24-7-4 in their last 16 appearances at Madison Square Garden, including 11-3-2 points. An appreciative and raucous crowd gave their team a relentless ovation at the end of the game as Rangers players gave their fans a good salute in the center with a traditional stick rage assuring the playoffs.
“We have a long way to go, but we will enjoy it tonight, for sure,” Strom said. “The building was unreal tonight, the energy in the building. It’s just a good feeling. We’ve come a long way as a group. It was a great job from top to bottom. Now the fun things begin.”
New York is eight points ahead of Pittsburgh in the race for the division and 12 points ahead of Washington and has a chance to host the opening round of the playoffs at the Gardens.
After Ottawa’s Austin Watson scored his seventh goal earlier at 2:22, Panarin leveled 12:32 with his 21st goal, sending the teams to 1 at the first half.
The Rangers beat Ottawa 13–3 in the first and continued that dominance in the second, beating the Senators 12–6.
Kopp scored his 17th goal at 6:56, beating Anton Forsberg with a high wrist shot from the right circle. Cop has 11 points in 10 games since joining Rangers in a trade from Winnipeg on March 21.
Creder gave the Rangers a two-goal cushion with a rifle to the puck post Forsberg at 9:05. Assisted by Mika Zibnejad and Ryan Lindgren.
Strom made it 4–1 for Rangers at 17:27 of the second, scoring his 17th with assists to Panarin and Lindgren, before Kreider scored again at 17:31 of the third for his 49th goal of the season. Scored from. This tied Creder with Mike Gartner for the fourth-most goalscorer in a season in Rangers history.
Creder, who has scored nine goals in his last 11 appearances, is now one goal shy of becoming the fourth Ranger to reach 50-goals alongside Vic Hadfield, Adam Graves and Jaromir Jagger, who holds a franchise record of 54.
Asked if he had even considered the possibility of joining such an elite company, Creder scoffed at his peers.
“The whole team has played incredibly well throughout the year. And a rising tide lifts all the ships,” he said. “Ultimately, we make the playoffs and getting a chance to win home ice is the primary focus.”
Forsberg made 28 stops in the defeat. Ottawa lost for the second time in a row after three consecutive victories.
“What we usually have wasn’t enough,” said Senators coach DJ Smith. “They came out hitting, give them credit. This is a team that is running right now. They were the better team wire to wire. ,
Panarin, who also assisted Coop in goals with K’Andre Miller, has points in four straight appearances and 26 points – six goals and 20 assists – in his last 16 appearances.
Gallant, who took over after the Rangers fired David Quinn last May, said he thought the Rangers were coming together around Christmas. Gallant said the Leadership Corps has proved particularly important.
“From coaching against that team, I knew there were people with character here,” Gallant said. “And the young people had one more year to get better.”
The seventh-placed Senators in the Atlantic Division have not made the playoffs since 2017 when they reached the Eastern Conference finals.
The Rangers won all three games against Ottawa, sweeping the series for the first time since 1994–95.
Rangers forwards Kapo Kako and Kevin Rooney return after a long absence with injuries. Kako had lost 31 games last played on January 21, while Rooney had not played since March 2.
Note: New York scored three or more goals for the fourth consecutive game and scored three or more goals in nine of their last 10 games. … Rangers were without forwards Tyler Motte and Philippe Chittil – both were absent with upper body injuries – and New York also carried forward Julian Gauther, Greg McKegg and Johnny Brodzinci plus defenseman Libor Hajek. … the senators put forward defensemen Jake Sanderson and Victor Mete, in addition to Tim Stutzl and Drake Batherson.
Rangers: Host the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday night.
Senator: Return home to host the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday.
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