Daniel Alfredsson gave Ottawa a five-goal lead with less than a period to go before the New York Rangers staged a furious rally to fell just short. Dany Heatley's empty-net goal in the closing seconds wrapped up a 6-4 victory Thursday night that became much too difficult.
"It should have been enough, but you have to play the right way," said Ray Emery, who was 16:31 away from his second shutout of the Rangers this season.
He barely escaped with a win.
Petr Prucha scored the first Rangers goal, drawing sarcastic cheers at 3:29. Jason Ward followed 45 seconds later, and when Marcel Hossa cut the deficit to 5-3 at 6:20, Madison Square Garden was solidly behind the home team after a spell of booing.
Blair Betts then deflected Jed Ortmeyer's shot past Emery at 10:39, sending the building into a frenzy.
It didn't matter as the Senators won their eighth in 10 games (8-1-1).
"To have a chance to come back and win a game when you were down 5-0, it would have been special," Rangers forward Brendan Shanahan said, "but it just gets chalked up as a loss."
Both teams came in off benchmark games Tuesday.
The Rangers were trying to shake off a lacklustre 5-3 home loss to the New York Islanders that snapped a four-game win streak and caused a rare post-game rant from coach Tom Renney. The Senators came off a home win against Boston. Ottawa turned a 2-0 deficit in the third period into a 5-2 victory.
New York was a goal away from matching that feat and was poised to go on the power play when defenceman Chris Phillips flipped the puck from his zone over the glass - which should've drawn a delay-of-game penalty.
None was called.
"You thought I was upset the other night," Renney said. "I've been given details why it was called the way it was.
"Our replay of the play clearly, clearly suggests otherwise. If we score on the power play, and of course I'm the optimist that we're going to, we get a point at least and then we get through overtime . . . and we've been pretty good in shootouts."
But the Senators regained control and held off the Rangers the rest of the way despite being outshot 14-6 in the period and 42-33 overall.
"It was kind of a snowball effect," Emery said. "They battled hard.
"I'm just glad the game wasn't five minutes longer."
Renney was fine with his team's start in the first period until New York fell behind on the first of Patrick Eaves' two goals at 10:31.
It all fell apart for New York when Chris Kelly, Antoine Vermette, and Eaves connected in an 11:20 span of the second period.
No. 1 goalie Henrik Lundqvist's rare night off was suddenly over. He relieved Kevin Weekes as Renney angrily addressed his team and emphatically gestured toward the ice during a timeout.
Lundqvist didn't face a shot in the second and saw only five in the third. But the goal he gave up to Swedish compatriot Alfredsson at 1:02 of the final frame saddled him with the loss.
"We had a lot of energy left," Lundqvist said. "I think we played a really good third but obviously it wasn't good enough to play just one good period."
Eaves, Alfredsson and Heatley all had three points and contributed to the early exit for many at Madison Square Garden.
Less than two weeks ago, Emery stopped 27 shots in a 1-0 win over the Rangers.
"We talked about not letting ourselves relax," Heatley said. "I think we did. "It was a little bit of human nature when we got the fifth. You can't do that in this league."
Emery, 6-1-1 in his past eight starts, allowed only 13 goals in that span before the Rangers broke out.
None of the goals were pretty. Prucha redirected a shot by Jaromir Jagr at the left post, Ward got to a rebound and knocked it in, Hossa cleaned up an attempt by Shanahan in front, and Betts finished off some hard work by fellow checkers Ortmeyer and Ward.
Putting pucks on goal and charging the net are practices Renney has been preaching.
"It caps off a morale boost for them," he said. "The third period, I'm hoping, will provide that for this team going forward.
"We are capable and we need to believe that."
Weekes allowed four goals on 27 shots before being replaced.
"We were embarrassed," Shanahan said.
Notes: Ortmeyer had two assists, his first points in five games after recovering from a pulmonary embolism that forced him to miss the first 40 contests . . . Ottawa hasn't scored in 15 power plays . . . Vermette returned after missing five games with a hip injury.