Fiesty, fired-up Senators even series with Rangers

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


NEW YORK -- At the conclusion of the regular season, the New York chapter of the Pro Hockey Writers Association presented Brian Boyle with the John Halligan Good Guy Award.
The Ottawa Senators have a very different opinion of the Rangers center, and they made that abundantly clear Saturday night in the second game of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at Madison Square Garden.
Boyle -- who punched Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson in the head several times during a post-whistle skirmish Thursday night in the series' first game -- looked to get the last laugh when he put the Rangers ahead early in the third period, but in the end, it was the Senators who laughed last.
A late equalizing tally from Nick Foligno sent the game to overtime, and Chris Neil scored 1:17 into the extra session to give the Senators a 3-2 win, tying the series at one game apiece as the teams head north for Monday night's third game in Ottawa.
"I thought our team responded all night long to the ebb and flow of the game," Senators coach Paul McLean said. "I thought we handled the momentum changes way better than we did in the first game. We obviously grew as a team after Game 1, and we grew again as a team tonight."
Tempers flared early in the second game when Senators defenseman Matt Carkner pinned Boyle against the left-wing boards and began unloading punches as the Rangers center fell to the ice. The fight grew to involve all 10 skaters, and it resulted in game misconduct penalties for both Carkner and Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky at 2:15 of the first period. A second scrum erupted less than a minute after play resumed, but no further penalties were assessed until Boyle was drawn into a fight with Neil with 11:43 remaining in the period.
"We didn't like what happened in Game 1," Neil said. "We came out and tried to take care of it in Game 2. We didn't like what he did to Erik, and we need to take care of that kind of stuff."
Boyle, for his part, declined to discuss the first period.
The Rangers were awarded a five-minute power play due to Carkner's fighting major, but the Blueshirts were unable to generate much offense, allowing the Senators to come away unscathed. New York had much better luck, however, when Senators defenseman Sergei Gonchar went to the box for tripping at 8:32. On the ensuing power play, defenseman Anton Stralman fired a low shot from the right point, and it bounced through the legs of Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson for the goal at 10:11. It was the first playoff goal of Stralman's NHL career.
The Senators equalized at 13:50 of the second period, capitalizing on a five-minute penalty that was assessed when Rangers rookie Carl Hagelin delivered an elbow to Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. Karlsson was awarded the goal when his shot from the right wing boards struck the skate of Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto and ricocheted past Henrik Lundqvist to tie the game. The 1-1 score held as the teams skated to the locker room at the second intermission.
Boyle broke the tie 2:41 into the third period, firing a high shot from the slot that beat Anderson on his stick side. It was the second career playoff goal for the Boston College grad, two days after he scored his first, the eventual game-winner in New York's Game 1 victory. Ottawa tied it again with 4:37 remaining, as Foligno parked in front of the net and knocked a bouncing puck over Lundqvist's glove arm off a pass from Zenon Konopka.
"We were trying to protect that lead," Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said. "We had a few good shifts where we were in their zone, but for the most part we were trying to stop them from scoring, and we were doing a little too much backing up and not enough forechecking."
Rangers coach John Tortorella said of his team's attempt to hold the lead, "There's always a natural tendency where you end up defending. I thought we could have made some plays to try and keep some puck possession, but that's what happens when you get into a little bit of that."
In overtime, the Senators won an offensive-zone faceoff and immediately began firing pucks at the net. Lundqvist lost his stick in the scramble, and when Jared Cowen's blast from the blue line was blocked by Ryan McDonagh, the puck bounced to Neil, who lifted a backhand shot into the net to end the game.
"We got the puck in deep right off the get-go," Neil said. "We did some good work down low. We got the puck to the net, and we had traffic in front of the net. Obviously, Lundqvist was down and out, and I was able to get the puck on my backhand and was able to get it high enough to get it over him."
Anderson finished with 27 saves on 29 shots, while Lundqvist made 29 saves in the loss.
"It's tough when you look at their first two goals," Lundqvist said. "They were really bad bounces for us, but you just have to forget about it and move on. It's a tied series now, and they're a good team.
Tortorella said, "We were four minutes away from winning the hockey game, and I still don't think we played that poorly tonight, but I do think we need to continue to attack."
NOTES: Stralman played in just his second playoff game at the NHL level Saturday night, having never made the playoffs in his four previous NHL seasons with Toronto (2007-09) and Columbus (2009-11). He had a goal and two assists in six Calder Cup playoff games with the AHL's Toronto Marlies in 2009. ... Tennis great John McEnroe and New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck were among the celebrities in attendance for the game, along with actors Steve Schirripa and Vincent Piazza. ... Alfredsson did not return to the game in the third period after being elbowed by Hagelin. MacLean did not provide an update on Alfredsson's condition following the game.