Sat, Apr 28, 2012 - Page 20 News List

Defensemen put Rangers into second round

AP, NEW YORK

The New York Rangers’ Dan Girardi, right, scores past the Ottawa Senators’ goalie Craig Anderson, left, in the second period in Game 7 of their NHL Eastern Conference quarter-final playoff series on Thursday in New York.

Photo: Reuters

New York defensemen Marc Staal and Dan Girardi scored two goals in quick succession in the second period, giving the Rangers a 2-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators in the decisive Game 7 of their NHL first-round playoff series.

Staal broke the scoreless deadlock in the second period and four minutes later, Girardi gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead with his first career NHL playoff goal. Daniel Alfredsson responded for Ottawa with a power-play goal later in the second, but they could not find a tying goal.

New York progresses to an Eastern Conference second-round series against the seventh-seeded Washington Capitals.

The Rangers had not hosted a Game 7 since their Stanley Cup victory over Vancouver in 1994, but they stayed perfect at home in deciding games — winning their fourth. New York is 4-5 overall in Game 7, and the Senators dropped to 0-5.

New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves and withstood intense pressure from the Senators, who spent most of the closing five minutes in the Rangers’ end.

Senators goalie Craig Anderson was nearly as good, making 27 saves.

New York rallied from a 3-2 series deficit for just the second time, building off the momentum of its 3-2 victory in Ottawa on Monday in Game 6.

Just like in that one, when the Rangers scored three goals in the second period, New York used the middle frame to take over. While waiting for their big guns — Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards — to spark the offense, a pair of defensemen stepped up to get the Rangers going.

Rookie Chris Kreider forced a turnover and got the puck into the Ottawa end. Ryan Callahan nudged it ahead to Derek Stepan, who sent a pass from the right circle to the left circle to Staal for his first goal of the series 4:46 minutes into the second.

Soon after, Brandon Dubinsky got to the loose puck and smacked it into the slot to Girardi, who wound up for a hard slap shot just a few feet from the crease and slammed it past Anderson at 9:04 minutes.

Just when the fans began to feel confident that the Rangers would move on to the second round, Alfredsson brought back the tension.

Alfredsson took a pass above the left circle from Chris Phillips and one-timed a shot past Lundqvist with 8:26 minutes left in the second to bring the Senators back within a goal.

DEVILS 3, PANTHERS 2, 2OT

In Sunrise, Florida, Adam Henrique scored his second goal of the game in double overtime to give New Jersey victory over Florida in Game 7 and a place in the second round of the playoffs.

The Devils wasted a 2-0 lead in the third period, then recovered and earned a matchup with Philadelphia in the East semi-finals. Stephen Gionta also scored in regulation for New Jersey, which won a series for the first time since 2007.

Martin Brodeur made 43 saves for the Devils in a game that ended on the 20th anniversary of his first playoff appearance for New Jersey. A couple of weeks shy of turning 40, the goalie moved closer to a possible fourth Stanley Cup.

Stephen Weiss and Marcel Goc scored third-period goals for the Panthers, and Jose Theodore made 33 saves.

Henrique opened the scoring when Anton Volchenkov camped out at the left point, waited for a pass from behind the net to bounce off the boards his way, then fired a one-timer that Henrique directed into the net.

A half-minute later, Panthers center John Madden took the brunt of a big collision and tried to crawl to the Florida bench, with blood pouring from his face leaving a red trail along the ice.

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