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2012 rangers playoff preview

A Look at the Rangers–Senators Season Series

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 12:  Carl Hagelin #62 of the New York Rangers skates with the puck against Erik Karlsson #65 of the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden on January 12, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images) Erik Karlsson and Carl Hagelin.

The Rangers’ loss to Washington on Saturday — combined with Ottawa’s loss to the Devils and Florida’s win over Carolina — meant that the Rangers will open the postseason against Canada’s only entrant in this year’s Eastern Conference playoffs, the Ottawa Senators. The Rangers struggled against the Senators this year, finishing with a 1-2-1 record in four games, and getting outscored 7-1 in the final two matches in the season series. Here, now, a look back at the four games between the teams this year.

October 29, 2011, in New York: Senators 5, Rangers 4 (SO)
This game is best remembered for the Rangers' collapse: They had a 4-1 third period lead, and the Senators scored three times in the final 10:42 to tie the game. (It might also be remembered as the game in which John Tortorella experimented with separating Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik.) The Rangers fell to 3-3-3 after this one, but starting with their next game, they'd win seven in a row, the first of four winning streaks this year of at least five games. Something to keep in mind when considering the result of this game: Two of the Rangers' three shootout attempts were taken by Erik Christensen and Wojtek Wolski, neither of whom is with the team anymore.

November 9, 2011, in Ottawa: Rangers 3, Senators 2
The aforementioned seven-game winning streak included this game in Ottawa, in which the line of Gaborik, Derek Stepan, and Artem Anisimov combined for three goals and seven points. Worth noting from this one: Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson didn't play because of a concussion, suffered from a hit by Wolski during the teams' previous meeting.

January 12, 2012, in New York: Senators 3, Rangers 0
This is sort of the nightmare scenario for the Rangers in the conference quarterfinals: Jason Spezza puts the puck in the net (he did that twice in this game), Erik Karlsson is setting up goals (he picked up two assists in this one), and Craig Anderson is on and doesn't allow the Rangers any goals. The Senators, by the way, were red hot at this point in the season: The win was their seventh in eight games, and it improved their record to 10-1-2 in their last thirteen. Then again, the Rangers had been on a streak of their own entering this game: They'd won five in a row going in, and ten of their last eleven.

March 8, 2012, in Ottawa: Senators 4, Rangers 1
You could argue that this loss helped make up the low point of the Rangers' season: It was the second of three consecutive losses, and that stretch was the only one all season in which they dropped three straight games in regulation. The Rangers actually led 1-0 in this one but trailed 2-1 after one period, and let Ottawa extend their lead with two more tallies in the third. (This game came just two days after the Rangers had allowed three goals to New Jersey in the third period of a loss in Newark.) Henrik Lundqvist didn't play in this one, but neither did Anderson, who missed the game with an injured finger. And just as they had in that January 12 game, the Rangers' power play finished the night 0-for-4.

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Photo: Nick Laham/Getty Images