White-hot Boyle has Ottawa fans steaming

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New York Rangers' Brian Boyle, centre, celebrates a

New York Rangers' Brian Boyle, centre, celebrates a goal during the third period. (April 16, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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Arthur Staple Arthur Staple

Staple, with Newsday since 1997, has covered high school sports, hockey and football.


Brian Boyle has heard some boos before, a few people derisively chanting his name back in his Boston College days when his Eagles would visit their rivals at Boston University.

But never anything like this. Never 20,000-plus, full-throated Canadians booing the heck out of him from the minute he stepped onto the ice for warmups. Chanting his name to try to distract him.

"If I'm the villain to them, that's good," Boyle said, carrying the Broadway Hat after his goal stood up Monday night in the Rangers' 1-0 win over the Senators in Game 3.

The playoffs are not usually the time when opposing fans target an 11-goal guy. But Boyle has a goal in each of the three games of this series, two of them game-winners and the third a should-have-been-the-winner in the third period of Game 2.

He is public enemy No. 1 up here thanks to that scoring touch and some of the other things he's done, and not done. He punched up Senators star Erik Karlsson in Game 1, then played pacifist as Matt Carkner exacted his revenge at the start of Game 2, earning Carkner a ban for Monday night.

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The Rangers have Henrik Lundqvist, and he was the star of the show Monday night with 39 saves. But Boyle, the affable, 6-6 lug from Hingham, Mass., has made himself into the most hated Ranger, and that's a status worth earning in a tight series. "He's playing the right way," coach John Tortorella said. "A lot of us are following his lead."

Boyle's value during the Rangers' triumphant regular season hardly was offense. His 11 goals were a precipitous drop from his 21 in 2010-11, and he needed five in the final nine games just to reach 11. But he is the late-game faceoff-taker, the top-unit penalty-killer and the physical presence that helps drive a team that doesn't rely on its star scorers.

Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards had a few good moments but were guilty of being a bit too cute at times during a dominating stretch of forechecking in the second. Ryan Callahan and Artem Anisimov were off their games.

That left the Boyle-Ruslan Fedotenko-Brandon Prust trio to carry the flag, and they did, planting it in the Ottawa zone shift after shift. Fedotenko and Prust nearly banged home goals in a second-period scrum, long after it seemed certain that one greasy, gritty goal might do it for either side.

The Senators' stars weren't shining, either. Daniel Alfredsson sat out with the concussion he suffered Saturday. Jason Spezza had as many minor penalties as shots (three). Karlsson, who attempted 21 shots Saturday in New York, threw a dozen on net, though he was forced to defend more than attack at times.

So ugly was going to win it, and Boyle picked a Dan Girardi shot off the lively end boards and flung a backhand over Craig Anderson at 7:35 of the third.

"We've got to make sure we pay attention to him," Senators coach Paul MacLean said.

That would follow suit from the Ottawa fans. Boyle trudged up a public stairwell to an interview room after the win and was greeted by a handful of Sens fans heading for the exits.

"Boyle, you [stink]!" one shouted.

"That guy thinks I [stink]," Boyle noted dryly as he walked to the podium.

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It's good to be the bad guy sometimes, especially when it's a new experience.

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