Derek Stepan looked impressive once again for the Rangers in their 5-4 shootout win over the Ottawa Senators at The Garden. He was able to score once in regulation and added a goal during the shootout to help the Rangers improve to 4-1-0 this preseason, as they prepare for the season opener Saturday, Oct. 9th in Buffalo.
Leading 1-0 in the second period, Stepan won a faceoff in the Rangers' zone and was able to break out along with Ruslan Fedotenko for a 2-on-1 opportunity.
Fedotenko blasted a shot on net from the right side and Stepan was able to muscle his way past the defender to put the puck in the back of the net for a shorthanded goal.
The Rangers blew a 2-0 lead and had to battle back to tie the game at 4-4 late in the third period. Marc Staal scored the game-tying goal and took a hard hit into the boards. He was seen on the ice, in pain, but with a smile on his face by the time his teammates reached him to celebrate the goal.
After Frolov failed to score on the Rangers first shootout attempt, Stepan came through to give them a 1-0 lead. Daniel Alfredsson scored for the Senators to tie it at 1-1. Erik Christiansen then scored to put the Blueshirts up 2-1. With the game on the line, Henrik Lundqvist came up big to give the rangers a 5-4 shootout win.
Stepan looked very good throughout this game, playing physically and with confidence. His first goal came purely from hustle and strength. Once he won the faceoff in the defensive zone, he hustled down into the offensive end to knock in the rebound off Fedotenko's shot.
Seeing the replay, Stepan battled the defenseman and was able to get enough muscle on the stick to put the puck past Ottawa's Brian Elliot.
With the loss of Chris Drury to injury for the first few games of the regular season, Stepan has played well enough this preseason to earn a spot on the roster at least until Drury comes back. The Rangers need a young player to step up and push some of the older players who might think their job is safe.