The Canadian Tire Centre was the venue for the first Mika Zibanejad reunion game of the 2023-24 season against the struggling Ottawa Senators. New York found themselves in a tilt against another league bottom feeder. The Senators, having played only 19 games thus far, came in below .500 holding a record of 9-10-0. The Blueshirts know better than to not underestimate the bottom feeders. The ever-resilient San Jose Sharks gave New York a bit of a scare on Sunday. Thanks to Artemi Panarin’s fifth career hat trick, the Rangers barely escaped and defeated the Sharks 6-5.

As previously mentioned, we find ourselves in another Mika Zibanejad reunion game. Drafted by Ottawa in 2011, Zibanejad spent his first five seasons in Canada’s capital city. The Rangers acquired Zibanejad in a trade before the start of the 2016-17 season. Since then, the former Sen has been one of the most impactful Blueshirts of the recent era.

It would be no surprise if the Panarin, Vincent Trocheck, and Alexis Lafrenière line became “Line One” all of a sudden. These three play such a telepathic style of hockey, always knowing where their other two linemates are at all times. The shots might have ended 10 aside after the first 20 minutes, but Ottawa led where it mattered the most.

In Igor Shesterkin’s most recent starts, he has to deal with some quality net-front presence care of the opposition. Midway through the period, a Brady Tkachuk deflection found twine.

Minutes later, the former Philadelphia Flyer Claude Giroux doubled Ottawa’s lead. The Senators would take hockey’s most dangerous lead into the middle frame. After giving up five goals to the Sharks, the Rangers might have been destined for a wake-up call after all.

Second Period Takeaway: Where in the World Is Igor Shesterkin‘s Rebound Control?

The Rangers started the second period with the NHL’s third-best power play. In all sports, it is only fitting to continue feeding the hot hand. The Rangers did that when Panarin ripped a wrist shot home past Anton Forsberg for his 16th goal of the year.

Just when you thought Uncle Mo(mentum) was wearing red, white, and blue, think again. An old friend by the name of Vladimir Tarasenko added his name to the scoresheet. His fourth of the year made it 3-1 in favour of the home side.

Seconds later, New York finds their second goal from one of their most underrated players so far this season. K’Andre Miller pounces on a rebound, cutting Ottawa’s lead to one for the time being. That would be Miller’s fourth goal in his last six games. The former Wisconsin Badger is sneakily on spectacular form.

Just when New York seemed to obtain a sliver of optimism, Ottawa would do their best Barbra Streisand impression and rain on their parade. Two unanswered goals from Drake Batherson and Tkachuk’s second put this one out of reach.

Third Period Takeaway: Not Capitalizing On Chances

For the second consecutive period, a Ranger power play carried over into the following frame. It felt like watching a New York power play from the mid-2000s: too much passing, not enough shooting. Just three minutes later, Joshua Norris and Tim Stützle each took respective minor penalties. New York would have their premier chance of the period on the two-man advantage. Even with Ottawa taking their timeout, the first unit was somewhat fresh. Even that was not enough for the Rangers. With only putting up one shot on the 5-on-3, that would all about do it for New York.

Tarasenko would notch his second via an empty netter and Ottawa got themselves back to even on the campaign at 10-10-0, defeating the Rangers 6-2. Many will not like this thought process, but the Rangers were due for an ugly loss. Their win against San Jose proved that they are not inevitable. Not capitalizing on chances given to them hurt the Rangers. What is supposedly the third-best power play did not show up tonight. Now, Peter Laviolette’s squad will be hungry and what better way to respond than against a division rival.

The Blueshirts are back in action on Saturday against the Washington Capitals. The Caps have dropped their last two, including a 6-0 loss to the surging Arizona Coyotes. Before their weekend matchup, Washington has an ever-important tilt with the Dallas Stars on Thursday.

Puck drop on Saturday is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST from Capital One Arena.

Main photo: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Akash Mahi, a dedicated enthusiast of the game, is a recognized expert in the domain of tennis balls. With a keen understanding of materials and aerodynamics, he has contributed to the evolution of tennis ball design, enhancing playability and performance. Mahi's expertise continues to impact both casual players and professionals alike.