Ottawa ties increasingly nasty playoff series on Neil's OT goal
Plenty more coming in the post-game Xtra. but he's a quick recap from MSG:
In a game where the bad blood between the Rangers and Senators emerged---and likely will continue in this playoff series--- Chris Neil scored on a backhander at 1:17 of overtime as Ottawa fought back to tie the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at one with a 3-2 win last night at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers had led twice in a angry, chippy game, the last time when Brian Boyle, a central figure in the nastiness, scored his second goal of the series to give the Blueshirts a 2-1 edge at 2:41 of the third period. Nick Foligno tied it with 4:37 left in regulation, when at the doorstep, he swatted a puck that bounced to him from the left side past a stickless Henrik Lundqvist, who dove vainly to his right.
“We were four minutes away from winning the hockey game,” said coach John Tortorella, who said the he expected an aggressive approach from the Senators from the start. “It’s kind of a fluky goal that goes right through Marc (Staal), right through his legs and they bang it in.”
The third period, which seemed to feature a scrum after every stoppage, was an intense continuation of an increasingly physical series, which continues in Ottawa on Monday and Wednesday. The Rangers won Game One 4-2 on Thursday.
With 9:28 left in the second period, and the Rangers clinging to a 1-0 lead, Carl Hagelin’s high hit on Daniel Alfredsson in the corner earned him a five-minute major. Alfredsson, who missed five games after a hit from then-Ranger Wojtek Wolski on Oct. 29, went down and skated off without assistance, but left the ice and did not return. On the ensuing power play, Erik Karlsson’s sharp-angle pass, with no one in front but Michael Del Zotto, defected off the defenseman and past Lundqvist at 13:50.
Tortorella declined to talk about the officiating, but did suggest that if Hagelin was suspended for one or two games, Chris Phillips should as well for his elbow to the head of Ryan Callahan.
The challenges started early. In what first appeared to be a sequel to the line brawl against the Devils during the season, on the opening faceoff, Senators coach Paul MacLean sent out tough guys Zenon Konopka, Neil and defenseman Matt Carkner, and Tortorella countered with Brandon Prust, Mike Rupp and Stu Bickel. The show of force presumably was in response to Boyle’s jabs at Karlsson in Thursday’s game.
MacLean changed to his first line of Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Alfredsson 15 seconds later, but the extracurriculars had just begun. Matt Carkner, jumped Boyle after a check on Zach Smith, and with Boyle on the ice, threw a series of punches before Brandon Dubinsky charged in. “Boyle’s just getting sucker-punched,” said Staal. “No one’s (officials) are doing anything.” Carkner received 17 minutes of penalties and a game misconduct; Dubinsky received two minutes for roughing and a game misconduct, apparently for being the third man in.
Tortorella berated the officials from the bench, and as Dubinsky skated off at the exit at one corner of the rink, he picked up and slammed down a huge orange Gatorade cooler in frustration. The Rangers managed just two shots on Craig Anderson in the five-minute power play.
Neil then went after Boyle at 8:15, and each went off for five minutes. Just 15 seconds later, Sergei Gonchar was whistled for tripping Artem Anismov, and the Rangers capitalized. Anton Stralman walked in from the right point to the top of the faceoff circle and fired. Anderson got a piece of the puck but it went through his pads and trickled in at 10:11 for the 1-0 lead.
Boyle declined to discuss the first period incident, but said: “We’ve stood in there all year and we won’t back down.”