NEW YORK – Now it got nasty.
After a very benign Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, the Ottawa Senators took things into their own hands last night in a match that featured a number of fights and penalties, ultimately giving the Senators a 3-2 overtime victory over the Blueshirts to tie the series at one apiece.
“There are going to be bad bounces, but you just have to move on,” said Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. “They’re a good team and create a lot of chances. I knew going into this series it wasn’t going to be easy, so we just have to forget about this one and get ready for the next one.”
Chris Neil scored the game winner at 1:17 into overtime, after Lundqvist lost his stick. This came after Ottata was able to tie the game late on Nick Foligno’s slapshot with less than five minutes left to play in the third.
“There’s always a natural tendency where you end up defending,” said coach “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. I don’t think we’re that bad, it’s kind of a fluky goal that goes right through Marc (Staal), right through his legs and they bang it in. 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.”
Ultimately, though, this game will be remembered for the fights and nastiness exhibited throughout the match. Just 2:15 into the game, Matt Carkner attacked Brian Boyle, pummeling the center with punches in retaliation on a Boyle’s hit on Erik Karlsson in Game 1.
Carkner was tossed, along with the Rangers Brandon Dubinsky, who was deemed the third man in, although replays showed he was trying to defend his teammate.
Down an important man, the Rangers still were in control with Anton Stralman scoring from the point on the powerplay at 10:11. The puck seemed to trickle past Craig Anderson to give the Blueshirts the early lead.
But the nastiness continued into the second and a hit to Daniel Alfredsson’s head by Carl Hagelin put the rookie in the box for five minutes. That allowed Karlsson to tie the game.
Hagelin will be summoned to the NHL offices later today for a hearing on that hit. Alfredsson did not return.
“We knew they were going to do something to change the momentum. I’m not surprised,” Brad Richards said. “I’m sure it’ll get worse.”
True, but Boyle was almost the hero with a goal early in the third to make it 2-1 Rangers. That lead almost stood up until Ottawa’s heroics late in the game.
“We were trying to protect that lead,” said defenseman Marc Staal. :We had a few good shifts where we were in their end 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.”
And too much nastiness from the Senators.
Notes: Carkner will also have a hearing later today…Henrik Lundqvist made 29 saves and is now 16-21 overall in the playoffs, including a 9-9 mark at home. The game was his 37th career NHL playoff appearance, and he is now one game shy of John Vanbiesbrouck for third on the Rangers all-time goaltender playoff games played list…Game 3 is scheduled for Monday at 7:30 p.m. in Ottawa with Game 5 on Wednesday. Game 5 is next Saturday at Madison Square Garden at 7 p.m.