The New York Rangers will be right back in Canada once the NHL playoffs start next week.
For now, they have their final pair of regular season games to take care of, starting with today’s road finale against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Center (12:30, MSG).
The Rangers (47-27-6) have already clinched the best road record in hockey, currently standing at 27-11-2, though they dropped their last road game on Wednesday night, a 2-0 decision to the Washington Capitals. Six Rangers regular sat out the contest for rest, and it’s expected that trend will continue today and tomorrow. Henrik Lundqvist made 24 saves for the Rangers, who are locked in the first wild card spot and will take on the Montreal Canadiens in the quarterfinals beginning next week.
On the other hand, Ottawa (43-27-10) still has a bit to play for, as they will clinch the Atlantic Division’s second seed, as well as home-ice advantage in a quarterfinal set with Boston or Toronto, with a win or a Bruins loss against Washington tomorrow. The Senators helped their case with a 2-1 shootout over the aforementioned Bruins on Thursday night. Alex Burrows had the regulation goal, while Kyle Turris had the only score necessary in the shootout. Ottawa closes their season out against the Islanders, who are still alive for the final Eastern wild card spot.
This will be the third and final meeting between the Rangers and Senators this season, the squads having split thus far, both held at Madison Square Garden The Rangers took the last meeting back on December 27, making up a 3-1 deficit to win 4-3. After trailing by that margin after 20 minutes, Derek Stepan tied it with two goals in the second before Nick Holden put in the game winner in the third, likewise scoring his second goal of the game.
This game will serve as a bit of a homecoming for Mika Zibanejad, as the 23-year old was drafted sixth overall by Ottawa in the 2011 draft, spending his whole career there before being traded to the Rangers for Derek Brassard last summer.
The Rangers conclude their regular season tomorrow at home against Pittsburgh.