OTTAWA, Ontario — If this is going to be the way Alex Georgiev plays all season, then giving Henrik Lundqvist fewer starts doesn’t figure to be a problem.
Georgiev made his season debut and was terrific in stopping 31 shots in the Rangers’ 4-1 win over the Senators here on Saturday night.
“I thought Georgie had a strong game,” coach David Quinn said. “I liked a lot about his game.”
The Rangers were certainly tighter defensively than they were in the season-opening, 6-4 win over the Jets on Thursday night at the Garden, when Lundqvist faced 47 shots. But there were sequences of this game when Georgiev was under pressure. He made a great save on former Ranger Artem Anisimov from in front early in the second period, then holding his own in the third period when the Senators were taking chances trying to come back.
“The guys played great today,” Georgiev said. “I saw most of the shots. It was much easier to play when we scored and got the lead in the second period. It was certainly easier to play from that moment on.”
Quinn juggled his defensive pairs, putting 21-year-old rookie Libor Hajek up with Jacob Trouba, while Brady Skjei went with Adam Fox. The Marc Staal-Tony DeAngelo pairing was the only duo to stay together from the first game, and the results were far better.
“I thought we got out of our zone a lot cleaner, I thought our puck support was a lot better,” Quinn said. “I thought our forwards did a lot better job supporting our ‘D’ and we didn’t spend as much time in our own end.”
Rangers first-round pick K’Andre Miller was suspended from his team at the University of Wisconsin on Saturday for an unspecified violation of team rules. The 6-foot-5 defenseman was taken with the No. 22-overall pick in the 2018 draft and was an unanimous pick for All-Big Ten team coming into this sophomore season.
The team said his situation would be evaluated on Monday, with the season-opener coming against No. 11 Boston College on Friday, followed by a game on Saturday against Merrimack.
Brendan Smith continued in his dual role as fourth-line winger and penalty-killing defenseman, and picked up an assist when he blocked a big shot from Bobby Ryan that sprung a shorthanded 2-on-1 finished by Mika Zibanejad. Smith playing both positions is something that Quinn doesn’t necessarily see as a temporary fix.
“I have no problem playing him at forward for an extended period of time,” Quinn said.
Greg McKegg and Michael Haley were the healthy scratches.