The Ottawa Senators are feeling good about their play following their second shutout of the season. The New York Rangers are frustrated with theirs after getting blanked for the second time in 2006-07.
The Senators look for another strong performance when they host the slumping Rangers on Friday.
Ottawa (19-18-1) has rebounded from a 2-6-0 stretch with back-to-back victories over Philadelphia and the New York Islanders. Goaltender Ray Emery made 18 saves Wednesday, backstopping the Senators' 2-0 victory over the Islanders.
"It's huge to learn how to play like that, to learn how to protect a lead like that and to get the results from playing a game like that," said Emery, who is 2-1 with a 1.34 goals-against average during his career against the Rangers. "So it was good to win one of those where we have a good defensive effort."
Ottawa's only other shutout victory all season came on Nov. 30 when Emery stopped 31 shots in a 6-0 victory over Florida.
The Senators' recent effort has been even more impressive as they are playing without leading scorer Jason Spezza, who will miss up to six weeks with a knee injury suffered in the team's last loss - 4-2 to Tampa Bay on Dec. 21.
Mike Fisher and Chris Kelly did the scoring Wednesday while Daniel Alfredsson had two assists for Ottawa, which has outshot its last two opponents 71-47. Fisher injured his left knee in the game and is out indefinitely, moving Kelly up to the top line with Alfredsson and Dany Heatley.
"Everybody has to chip in a little bit more and just play a little bit smarter," said Alfredsson, who extended his home point streak to nine games. "Obviously it's a lot tougher but I think we know if we play together as a team and don't make too many mistakes we have a good chance of winning any game."
The Senators captain was out of the lineup with an injury when his team lost 3-1 to the Rangers on Dec. 9, but Alfredsson has six goals and 15 assists in his last 12 games against New York. That defeat earlier this month was just the Senators' third in the last 13 matchups with New York (18-16-4) and first in seven meetings in Ottawa.
Jaromir Jagr and Martin Straka, the Rangers' top two scorers, each had a goal and an assist in that win over the Senators. Neither of them could get anything going Tuesday, however, as New York lost 2-0 to the Islanders.
The Rangers have dropped six in a row, their longest skid since losing eight straight March 12-25, 2004.
New York has been outscored 28-11 during its slide while converting just 12.9 percent (4-for-31) of its power-play opportunities, well below its 18.4 percent season mark. The Rangers also have killed off just 22 of their opponents' 33 extra-man chances (66.7 percent) after thwarting 84.3 percent in their first 32 games.
Despite those dismal numbers, coach Tom Renney said his team isn't giving up.
"I haven't seen the team quit, that's for sure," Renney said. "The bottom line is that there is some solace in that, but the reality of that is it's (loss)No. 6. We can't pretend our way through wins. It's going to take one thing, and one thing only, and that's for all the guys on this team to get it done."
Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist, who made 36 saves Tuesday, got it done during that Dec. 9 win over Ottawa as he stopped 34 shots. It seems likely Lundqvist will be in net for the rematch because backup Kevin Weekes is 0-8 with four ties and a 4.70 GAA in 13 career games against the Senators.
The Rangers are concluding a four-game road trip. They are 11-9-1 away from home this season.