Season series: First of four meetings this season. The Rangers won three of four on the 2009-10 schedule, with Henrik Lundqvist making each start and allowing a total of just six goals. On the offensive side, Brandon Dubinsky of New York led all scorers with three goals.
Big story: Lundqvist had a five-game stretch from Nov. 9-24 in which he allowed 17 goals, had an .871 save percentage, was pulled from a game in Colorado and watched backup Martin Biron start consecutive games. Over his last five appearances — including one in relief of Biron — the elite goaltender has re-emerged. Lundqvist has two shutouts and a .952 save percentage, winning four times and giving up a total of six goals.
Senators: In the last three games, Ottawa has scored just one goal. The Senators have been shut out in consecutive games, including Saturday night's 1-0 shootout loss to the Sabres in which they at least managed one point thanks to the flawless play of goaltender Brian Elliott through 65 minutes of team play. But Thomas Vanek put a slap shot past Elliott in the second round of the penalty-shot tiebreaker and, as in regulation and overtime, the Senators were unable to solve Sabres goalie Ryan Miller in three tries. In an attempt to jump start their offence, the Senators have called up Bobby Butler from Binghamton (AHL). He currently shares the AHL goal-scoring lead.
Rangers: With New York's game on Long Island in danger of slipping away Thursday, coach John Tortorella inserted Lundqvist midway through the second period. The Rangers would rally to beat the Islanders 6-5 that night, then Lundqvist stopped all 17 shots he faced Friday in a 2-0 win that completed a home-and-home sweep. Marc Staal's power-play goal early in the second period was all he had to work with until Brian Boyle put the puck in an empty net with 2.6 seconds remaining.
"It felt like we needed a shutout to win it," Lundqvist said. "I thought we played really solid on defence, and they played well, too. For us it's about winning. We don't need to put on a show here, so it's a great win."
Who's hot: Elliott has shutouts in two of his last three starts for the Senators and has stopped 81 of 84 shots over that span for a .964 save percentage … Boyle's goal was his 11th of the season, just one behind Dubinsky for the Rangers' lead. Marian Gaborik has four goals in his last three games.
Injury report: New York has forwards Chris Drury (broken finger) and Vinny Prospal (knee) on injured reserve.
Stat pack: The Senators have won 19 of their 33 all-time meetings with the Rangers at Madison Square Garden … Lundqvist has an 8-10-0 career record against the Senators with one shutout and a stingy 1.97 goals-against average.
Puck drop: The teams play again Thursday in Ottawa. It represents a home-and-home for the Rangers, who have three days off in between games. The Senators, however, must travel to Montreal for a Northeast Division battle Tuesday before returning home to Scotiabank Place.