What a difference a day makes.

The Senators took a bite out of the Big Apple Saturday night.

Not only did the Senators keep their slim playoff hopes on the critical list, they also denied the New York Rangers a chance of booking a trip to the post-season dance with a 3-2 victory.

Captain Jason Spezza, Mika Zibanejad and Mark Stone scored for the Senators as Robin Lehner made 41 stops to give the club the victory over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

While Mats Zuccarello scored both goals for the Rangers and Lundqvist made 31 stops, the Rangers weren't able to secure the single point they need to officially lock up a playoff spot.

In the span of 24 hours, the Senators went from having a performance that looked like a dog's breakfast, to the kind of night many expected when the puck was dropped on the regular season.

Given the ugly effort in a 7-4 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at home Friday night, coach Paul MacLean was quite happy the club didn't have a lot of time to recover for this one.

"We're just trying to win games. We're trying to build some momentum and play right," said Spezza. "If we're winning games it will be a more enjoyable way to finish the season.

"It's kind of been a tough go and tough time losing some big games for us. That was a difficult one for us (Friday) to lose the way we did. We wanted to have a response just for the morale of the group."

The Senators needed help with timely saves from Lehner. He always enjoys playing against his longtime friend Lundqvist.

"It's fun building to play in and we wanted the revenge from (Friday's) game," said Lehner, who also noted the club wanted to avenge for an 8-4 loss to New York last month. "We played a hell of a lot better.

"We can't call it a day and quit the season. It's a bigger plan for us. We've got to find the pieces and play our game. It was good to see the group came back and fought hard the whole game."

The bad blood boiled over late in the third when Zuccarrello hit Chris Neil after he made a clean hit on Marc Staal that led to Staal going after Neil, while Zack Smith was poking at Zuccarrello.

"It was a dirty hit, a blindside hit and it was a little late," said Zuccarello.

The Senators were clinging to a 3-2 lead as New York refused to back down.

Every time the Senators got up by two goals, the Rangers bounced back to make a game of it. Zuccarrello scored his second of the period by tipping a shot in front to cut the lead to 3-2.