The Ottawa Senators will try to bounce back and kick off December on a high note when they visit the New York Rangers to close out a home-and-home set on Friday.
The Senators lost the opener 3-1, dropping their November record to 4-9-1.
It’s been a disappointing season thus far for Ottawa, for whom the offseason additions of Alex DeBrincat and Claude Giroux, among others, brought higher hopes and raised expectations. But the club has managed just four wins in each of the first two months of the season.
“We’ve just got to focus on the next one and we’re going to see those guys again,” forward Derick Brassard said. “We were playing really good from the Vegas (game) on. We’ve just got to turn the page and improve in some areas.”
Wednesday’s tilt was Ottawa’s first game back after a road trip through Vegas and California, which ended with a pair of wins against the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings. Friday’s contest is the first of a back-to-back for the Senators, who host the San Jose Sharks on Saturday, in the final stretch of five games in nine days.
“That win in L.A. was huge to get some momentum going, but I just didn’t think we were hard enough in our zone. I think that was the main reason,” forward Shane Pinto said. “A couple of soft goals in front of (Cam Talbot) and we kind of left him out to dry there. We’ve just got to turn the page and get ready for (Friday).”
Pinto has been one of the few bright spots for the Senators. The 22-year-old scored his ninth of the season against the Rangers, tying him with Giroux and captain Brady Tkachuk for the team lead.
The Rangers snapped a three-game slide with Wednesday’s win, giving them four straight wins against the Senators.
New York was four days removed from blowing a 3-0 lead after 40 minutes in a 4-3 loss to the Edmont Oilers. But against Ottawa, the Rangers managed to hang on to their second-intermission advantage and will look to build off that success.
“It’s definitely a momentum shift, I would say, in-game,” forward Jimmy Vesey said. “But I thought we did a better job (Wednesday) managing it. In the third period, I thought we played really well defending the lead.”
Igor Shesterkin is expected to be back in goal after ceding to veteran Jaroslav Halak on Wednesday. The 2022 Vezina Trophy winner has allowed at least three goals in four his past five starts and shouldered the blame for his last outing, a 5-3 defeat against the New Jersey Devils, saying after the game he was “ashamed” of how he played.
His coach, however, isn’t worried.
“He’s a hockey player. He’s a pro. He wants to win,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “So that’s what guys do all the time. When you’re not happy with your performance, you blame yourself, you don’t blame somebody else. Igor’s been the best goalie in the NHL for the last number — I’ve been here about 100 games or whatever it is, and I’m really happy to have him, trust me.”
–Field Level Media