NEW YORK – The night was supposed to belong to Patrick Kane but it was former Ranger Derick Brassard who ultimately claimed the Manhattan spotlight for the surging Ottawa Senators .
Claude Giroux broke a tie early in the third period and Brassard scored twice in his 1,000th career game as the Senators beat New York 5-3 on Thursday night to spoil Kane’s Rangers debut.
“I just came in and tried to play hard,” said the 35-year-old Brassard, who played parts of four seasons for the Rangers, where he was a fan favorite and helped New York reach the Stanley Cup Finals in 2014. ”I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life. It was awesome.”
The Rangers led 3-2 entering the third after Vladimir Tarasenko scored a highlight-reel goal late in the second, but Ottawa scored twice in a two-minute span, then held on for its fourth straight victory.
Brassard tied it at 1:35 with his 11th of the season off an assist from Giroux, who beat netminder Jaroslav Halak for his 26th goal at 3:26 to put Ottawa ahead to stay.
Shane Pinto and Tim Stutzle (empty net) also scored for Ottawa, and Cam Talbot made 29 saves. The vaunted Rangers power play was scoreless in four extra-man attempts including a five-minute charging major and game misconduct assessed to Senators forward Austin Watson at 12:49 of the first period.
“Cam was solid,” Senators coach D.J. Smith said. ”He was our best penalty killer back there.”
Talbot denied Kane with a pad save with five minutes left in the third to preserve the win as the Rangers lost for only the second time in their last eight home games. The Rangers are still 24-8-4 since Dec. 5.
Ottawa has entered the playoff race with an 11-3-1 surge since losing at home to Winnipeg on Jan. 21.
“Our best players have stepped up and taken their play to another level,” Brassard added. ”Our commitment to check and defend and work has been everything. That’s why we are having success.”
Tarasenko go-ahead goal was dramatic as he skated in on Talbot before faking left and then backhanding the puck into the net on the goaltender’s opposite side at 14:54.
Chris Kreider and Jacob Trouba also scored for the Rangers, who couldn’t find any offense after Tarasenko’s goal. The Senators outshot the Rangers 12-6 in the third when they scored three times.
“When you play a game of hockey for 60 minutes, you got to do more stuff than just make the real nice passes,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “We’ve got to reset some pucks, we got to get better forechecking, more pressure.”
Kreider opened the scoring with a short-handed goal at 6:31 of the first, bursting in on Talbot before flipping a high backhand into the net for his 27th goal. The goal was the 256th of Kreider’s career, tying him with Camille Henry for sixth on the franchise list.
The Rangers went quiet late in the game on a night when Kane made his debut following his acquisition from Chicago, where he won the Stanley Cup three times.
Kane heard loud cheers when he skated out for the pregame warmups as fans cluttered rows on the New York side of the arena for a glimpse of the newest player wearing his customary No. 88. Kane was impressed with his Madison Square Garden reception.
“I didn’t really know what it was going to be like until I got out there,” said Kane, who played 16 seasons for Chicago, where the raucous United Center was home. “Warmups, the pregame introduction, it’s pretty cool. It’s an amazing place to play.”
Kane and his reunited Blackhawks teammate Panarin were the last two off the ice as Kane heard the roar of the crowd again before yet another thunderous ovation during starting lineup introductions.
Kane skated on right wing with Panarin and Trocheck at center but overall had a quiet game for the Rangers, registering only four shots and no points. He added that he expects to rediscover the chemistry he and Panarin shared in their two seasons together with the Blackhawks.
“I don’t think it’s something that’s going to happen overnight,” Kane said. “But we’ll find it.”
NOTES: The Rangers played with five defenseman as they were again without the injured Ryan Lindgren. K’Andre Miller served the second of a three-game suspension for spitting toward Los Angeles defenseman Drew Doughty last Sunday … Defenseman Jakob Chychruyn made his debut for the Senators after he was acquired from Arizona on Wednesday.
Senators: Host Columbus on Saturday night.
Rangers: At Boston on Saturday.