Rangers coach David Quinn has set a new tone for his team and the priority has been to outwork opponents.
Marc Staal, Lias Andersson, Chris Kreider, and Mika Zibanejad scored, and Henrik Lundqvist made 29 saves as the Rangers defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-2 Monday night.
“It’s a hardworking team,” Rangers forward Kevin Hayes said. “If you are not working hard, you are not playing. That’s coach’s rules. We work hard every night and we are kind of building an identity here.”
The Rangers extended their dominance at Madison Square Garden, improving to 8-1-0 at home in their last nine games.
Mark Stone scored twice, Brady Tkachuck had two assists and Craig Anderson stopped 29 shots for Ottawa, which fell to 2-8-1 in road games this season.
“It’s tough to lose,” Stone said. “We are in the business of winning hockey games and right now we are struggling.”
Andersson broke a 1-1 tie at 3:26 of the third period, benefiting from a fortuitous bounce. Ryan Strome’s shot deflected off the goaltender, then caromed off Andersson into the back of the net. The seventh overall selection from the 2017 NHL draft originally did not make the team when training camp ended, but has been with the Rangers since early November.
Ottawa challenged the play for goaltender interference, but the referee’s initial call stood.
“We just sabotaged ourselves,” Senators coach Guy Boucher said of his team’s performance.”
Kreider finished a 2-on-1 opportunity with a slap shot that extended the Rangers lead to 3-1 at 8:18 of the third period. Filip Chytil delivered a cross-ice pass to set up the opportunity.
Kreider has notched nine goals and five assists as the Rangers built a 10-3-1 record since Oct. 30.
The Senators knotted the game 1-1 when Stone was able to find a loose puck in front of Lundqvist at 13:03 of the opening frame. The Rangers challenged for goaltender interference but the call was not overturned and the Blueshirts forfeited their timeout. Tkachuck and Colin White assisted on the play.
The 21-year-old White missed the previous game with an upper-body injury but returned to action Monday.
Stone hammered a one-timer at 17:17 of the third period to pull Ottawa within one. Tkachuck and Matt Duchene assisted on the play.
Staal gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead at 10:55 of the first period, converting a one-timer in the slot. Mika Zibanejad forced a turnover in the offensive zone after the Rangers had extended pressure, and found Staal alone in the high slot. Staal snapped a streak of 94 games without a goal that dated to October 2017. Jesper Fast also assisted on the play.
“He is a calming influence on our team, in the locker room and on the ice,” Quinn said of Staal. “He works hard and wants to get better. He has defended well, I think he has eaten a lot of minutes and has played against the other team’s top players.”
Zibanejad added an empty-netter at 18:21 of the final period and has scored a goal in each of the four games he has played in against the Senators.
Lundqvist picked up career victory 440 and is five wins away from tying Terry Sawchuk for sixth place on the NHL’s all-time wins list.