By IRA PODELL AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Rangers defensemen Marc Staal and Dan Girardi scored 4:18 apart in the second period, Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves and top-seeded New York eliminated the pesky eighth-seeded Ottawa Senators from the playoffs with a 2-1 victory in Game 7 on Thursday night. Staal broke the scoreless deadlock, and Girardi gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead with his first career NHL playoff goal. Lundqvist allowed Daniel Alfredsson’s power-play goal in the second but stood tall the rest of the way to send the Rangers into an Eastern Conference second-round matchup with the Washington Capitals.
The Rangers hadn’t hosted a Game 7 since their Stanley Cup victory over Vancouver in 1994, but they stayed perfect at home in deciding games _ winning their fourth. New York is 4-5 overall in Game 7, and the Senators dropped to 0-5. Lundqvist withstood tons of pressure from the Senators, who spent most of the closing 5 minutes in the Rangers’ end.
The win wasn’t secure until Sergei Gonchar tripped Carl Hagelin as he skated toward the empty net with 36.2 seconds remaining. Craig Anderson was nearly as good in the Ottawa net, making 27 saves. New York rallied from a 3-2 series deficit for just the second time, building off the momentum of its 3-2 victory in Ottawa on Monday night in Game 6.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)