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43-31-8

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33 SOG
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Rangers-Senators Preview

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:47 AM

Associated Press

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Rangers-Senators Preview
New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators

Although the Ottawa Senators have been without No. 1 goaltender Ray Emery their first two games, backup Martin Gerber and Dany Heatley have done more than enough to offset his loss.

The Senators seek their second 3-0 start in three years on Saturday night when they host the New York Rangers.

After leading the Senators (2-0-0) to the Eastern Conference title last season, Emery had left wrist surgery in June and is not yet completely healed. That left the starting job to Gerber, who lost that position last season to Emery in mid-November.

Gerber stopped 26 of 29 shots in Ottawa's season-opening 4-3 overtime victory Wednesday at Toronto. He was even better Thursday as the Senators completed a home-and-home sweep of the Maple Leafs with a 3-2 win, making 41 saves for his highest total since he made that many against the Rangers on March 14, 2006 with Carolina.

"You play your big rival and you win both games - it's a good start," Gerber said.

Emery isn't expected to miss too much more time, but Gerber's strong play means the Senators have no need to rush him back.

While Gerber has provided strong goaltending, Heatley has been an offensive force in each of the first two games. He has three goals and a team-best five points on only seven shots.

Heatley, coming off back-to-back 50-goal seasons, should be poised for another big season after signing a six-year, $45 million contract extension on Wednesday.

"It feels nice, no question," Heatley said after Wednesday's win. "It was a good day. I've said before, I love Ottawa, I love the fans, it's a great organization. So I'm just thrilled to be here for six years."

Captain Daniel Alfredsson scored his second goal of the game - and third of the season - on a power play with 4:59 remaining Thursday to keep Ottawa perfect.

"I didn't have much to shoot at, but I was able to put it in the corner," said Alfredsson, who has 12 goals and 18 assists in his last 22 games against the Rangers.

Ottawa's big three of Heatley, Alfredsson and Jason Spezza has combined for six goals and five assists in the first two games. That trio accounted for 113 of the team's 288 goals last season.

New York's two biggest offseason acquisitions - centers Chris Drury and Scott Gomez - made their Madison Square Garden debuts Thursday as the Rangers rallied for a 5-2 season-opening win over Florida.

Drury's first goal with his new team snapped a third-period tie and was his 38th game-winning goal in the regular season, and 53rd including playoffs.

"Same answer I always give: right place at the right time," Drury said.

Gomez didn't record a point in his Rangers' debut following seven seasons with rival New Jersey.

New York was outshot 21-9 over the first two periods, but Henrik Lundqvist gave his team a chance to come back by limiting Florida to two goals.

"As a goalie when your team struggles for a little bit, you just have to hang in for a few minutes," Lundqvist said.

Lundqvist is 2-5-0 in eight career games against the Senators, but has allowed only six goals in his last four appearances.

Rangers star Jaromir Jagr, who opened his 16th season Thursday with two assists, has two goals in his last 16 games against Ottawa.

The Senators won the final three meetings against the Rangers last season after losing the first matchup 3-1 on Dec. 9.

Ottawa has won 14 of its last 18 games against New York, going 7-1-0 at home.

2007-2008 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Dec 23 '07 OTT 3 at NYR 1 C. Kelly
Dec 01 '07 NYR 5 at OTT 2 J. Jagr
Oct 13 '07 OTT 3 at NYR 1 C. Phillips
Oct 06 '07 NYR 0 at OTT 2 A. Meszaros