NEW YORK - After 10 minutes had been played on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, the New York Rangers found themselves in a position that had been entirely unfamiliar during the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
They were trailing the Ottawa Senators.
The top-seeded Rangers, who had not played a second while behind in the first four games of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals -- Ottawa's Game 2 and Game 4 wins were both overtime victories in games the Senators never led until the final goal was scored -- fell behind in regulation for the first time in the series 9:18 into the first period on a goal by Jason Spezza.
That proved to be an ominous omen for the Broadway Blueshirts, who proved unable to solve Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson through the remainder of the game. The Senators netminder outdueled Henrik Lundqvist, stopping all 41 shots he faced to backstop his team to a 2-0 win and a 3-2 lead in the series.
The Senators will have a chance to clinch the series at home in Ottawa on Monday night, when Game 6 of the best-of-seven series takes place at Scotiabank Place.
"I think everyone put their hard hats on tonight," Anderson said. "We got off to a great start and were able to jump out to a lead. After that, we just got it down low and found a way to win."
Anderson had every answer for a Rangers team that left head coach John Tortorella happy with nearly everything about their effort -- except the final score.
"I feel better about the team after tonight's game than a couple of wins that we've had," Tortorella said. "So, we go to Ottawa, and have to try to play the same way, keep banging away and see if we can score some goals. Everything about our game was good, except our power play struggled."
Spezza's goal came 27 seconds after the Rangers' second power play of the evening. He took a pass from winger Mark Stone and fired it past Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. It was the only shot to elude the Blueshirts netminder, who finished with 28 saves, and it was the first time in nearly two years that the Senators had a regulation lead in a playoff game. Ottawa's last lead in the playoffs was in the sixth game of the Senators' Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the Penguins in 2010.
The Rangers pressed for an equalizing goal in the third period, but were unable to get one past Anderson, who made 15 of his saves in the final 20 minutes, including a breakaway stop on Ryan Callahan late in the frame.
"He played well in there," Callahan said, "and came up with some pretty big saves. Throughout the game, I thought we sustained a lot of pressure in their end and played the game we wanted to play. Unfortunately, we don't get that extra one, and we needed to."
With Lundqvist pulled for an extra skater in the final minute, Spezza scored into the empty net for his second tally of the night.
"I feel like I've been working hard and it's nice to get rewarded, but this time of year the most important things are wins," Spezza said. "We found ourselves even in the series, and I haven't scored yet but I felt like I was doing some things good -- but you've just got to keep plugging away and chip in when you can."
Game time for Game 6 is 7:00 p.m. ET on Monday night.
NOTES: Before Saturday, the Senators had not held a regulation lead since the first game of that 2010 series, a 5-3 win over the Penguins....Stone made his NHL debut in Saturday night's game, the second player to do so in this series after New York rookie Chris Kreider. A sixth-round pick of the Senators in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Stone joined Ottawa following the conclusion of his junior season with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League. In 66 regular-season games for Brandon, Stone scored 41 goals and handed out 82 assists....Kreider played his first home game as a Ranger on Saturday night. He made his Rangers debut in Ottawa in Game 3, replacing the suspended Carl Hagelin, who will be eligible to play in Game 6. Four players from the Super Bowl XLVI champion New York Giants were in attendance on Saturday night: Bear Pascoe, Jake Ballard, Zak DeOssie and Chris Snee, who attended the game with his father-in-law, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin. One of Snee's sons wore a hockey jersey from his father's alma mater, Boston College, where Kreider and Rangers teammate Brian Boyle played college hockey.