Senators blocked by Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin in loss

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OTTAWA — The Ottawa Senators weren’t making excuses, but three games in four nights should catch up with anyone. Ottawa was able to defend against the New York Rangers on Sunday night, but still fell short in a 2-1 loss.

OTTAWA — The Ottawa Senators weren’t making excuses, but three games in four nights should catch up with anyone.

Ottawa was able to defend against the New York Rangers on Sunday night, but still fell short in a 2-1 loss.

“The power play is the difference tonight for them, Panarin is one of the best players in the league,” Senators head coach DJ Smith said. It’s the difference at the end of the day.

Artemi Panarin’s power-play goal in the second period was the winner.

He’s a great player, he’s a star player for us,” Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant said. “He makes these great passes and tonight he shoots the puck and buries the winning goal on the power play. He’s a big part of our squad and obviously when the power play goes the way they do, and winning another hockey game for us tonight, that’s huge.

Much of the credit goes to Igor Shesterkin for his 29-save performance on Sunday.

Ryan Strome also scored for Rangers (32-13-5)

“I don’t know if he’s the best goaltender in the league, but he’s close,” Smith of Shesterkin said. “You can see that in his game and whatever his record is.”

Shesterkin nearly scored in an empty net with just over a minute left in regulation time, but the puck went just wide.

“The sound (from the bench) was getting louder as the puck got closer to the crease,” Strome said. “It’s just a matter of time; he’s going to stick with it. … It’s not just about trying to score goals; the plays he makes and the passes in small groups are just spectacular. He’s probably a better passer than 75-80% of our team, I think the guys would openly admit that too.

Filip Gustavsson made 31 saves in his first NHL start since Dec. 7.

The 23-year-old has split his time this season at Ottawa and AHL Belleville and admitted he sometimes struggles with the mental side of his game and recently felt the need for a reset to come back basically.

“I had two great games before I got called up here and I feel like I’m back in my head and my mental game,” admitted Gustavsson.

“As the game went on, I got more confident, of course, like I was a little nervous at the start of the game with a few puck touches and a few rebounds, but the more the game went on, the more I felt confident.”

Smith had no complaints about his goalkeeper’s performance against an offensively talented team like Rangers, especially as his side were playing the second half of a straight streak.

Tim Stutzle was the only senator to beat Shesterkin on the night.

With Drake Batherson, Josh Norris and Thomas Chabot sidelined by injury, Stutzle admits he feels the need to take on additional responsibilities, but it’s a role he enjoys.

“I think everyone needs to step up a little bit here and there,” he said. “I think a lot of guys are doing a really good job playing against one of the best players every night. I want to create most of the attack and DJ has given me the confidence to get me involved in almost all o-zone draws, so I try to give it back to him when I can.

Trailing 2-1 in the third period, the Senators’ best chance to tie the game came on the power play, but they couldn’t beat Shesterkin.

The Rangers outshot the Senators 15-7 at second and took a 2-1 lead on Panarin’s goal.

The Senators failed to generate much in the first 15 minutes of the second, but eventually showed some life in the closing minutes of the period, but saw nothing for their efforts.

A balanced first period saw the two teams exchange goals.

Stutzle opened the scoring in the fourth minute as he capitalized on a Rangers turnover and beat Shesterkin.

Just over three minutes later, Braden Schneider fired a shot from the point. And even though he was unsuccessful, Strome managed to win it back and beat Gustavsson for his tenth of the season.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on February 20, 2022.

Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press

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