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Senators 1, Rangers 0; Emery makes 27 saves to beat Rangers
Allen Panzeri, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Saturday, December 30, 2006

It's unfortunate that it took the loss of Jason Spezza and Mike Fisher, their two top centres, for the Ottawa Senators to find their rallying cry, but coach Bryan Murray isn't going to complain.

He has lectured all season with only limited success about the virtues of a strong team game heavy on defence.

For the second game in a row, though, he got exactly that.

Last night before a record crowd of 20,214 at Scotiabank Place, the Senators played a tenacious defensive game and recorded their second consecutive shutout, this time 1-0 against the New York Rangers. That followed Wednesday's 2-0 triumphed against the New York Islanders.

The Senators (20-18-1) have now won their past three games.

"Everyone rose to the occasion," defenceman Wade Redden said. "We know we have to tighten up and play well together and we did that. I think everyone's committed."

Ray Emery, who got both of the shutouts this week, now has three this year and six in his career. He faced 27 shots last night.

Daniel Alfredsson scored the game's only goal, just 32 seconds in. After that, though, Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was just as solid as Emery. He faced 28 shots overall.

The loss was the seventh in a row for the Rangers (18-17-4).

Murray said it was gratifying that his message was sinking in.

"Absolutely," he said.

"Until maybe you have to you don't do it all the time, and I think that's human nature in some respects.

"I think everybody believed the way we had to play, but, with the puck, they thought they had enough skill, they could do a little more, and, now that we're kind of down to the bare roots of doing things, we've got guys really doing their job.

"I heard comments about Chris Kelly playing on the first line and Dean McAmmond having to fill in on the third line. Well, they did a real fine job for us. They're responsible. They're not going to score a lot, but they played a lot and played well."

Given the injuries to Spezza and Fisher, the Senators received another scare near the end of the second period, when right-winger Chris Neil locked legs with Rangers defenceman Darius Kasparaitis and left with an apparent injury to his right ankle. However, Neil was back for the start of the third period.

Right from the opening faceoff, Alfredsson was a threat.

Just 32 seconds in, he deflected Chris Phillips' shot from the left point through Lundqvist's legs.

Then, 7:20 into the period, on a short-handed breakaway, Alfredsson forced Lundqvist, his teammate on the Frolunda team that won the Swedish league title during the 2004-05 NHL lockout and again on the 2006 Olympic gold medal team, to make two excellent saves, one with his left pad, one with his glove on the rebound.

No surgery for Fisher

Fisher is already peddling a stationary bike on his road to recovery from an injury to his left knee.

He doesn't need surgery, but there is no indication when he might return. He's likely out a minimum of 3-4 weeks.

Murray said yesterday that Fisher's injury, suffered in the third period of Wednesday's game against the Islanders, was similar to the knee injury that has also sidelined Spezza.

"It's a matter of when he gets healthy enough to get back," Murray said before last night's game. "I can't say a specific time frame we're looking at. It's a matter of the damage getting cleaned up."

To take Fisher's roster spot, centre Josh Hennessy was recalled from Binghamton of the American Hockey League.

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