BOSTON - It was as close as predicted, the first game of the Eastern Conference semifinals between two similar teams, the Rangers and Bruins, with the score tied at 2 after regulation.
But then came overtime, which has not been kind to the Rangers in the playoffs. The Bruins dominated, forcing Henrik Lundqvist to make 15 saves until finally, Brad Marchand, cutting down the middle on a rush, tipped Patrice Bergeron's centering pass from the right side past Lundqvist at 15:40 for a 3-2 win.
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"I thought it was a great game until overtime, when they took it over," Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman said. "We had a couple of chances, I had one. They had 100, probably . . . Finally, with all that pressure, they got a goal. But it's going to be a tight series."
Game 2 is here on Sunday at 3 p.m.
Coach John Tortorella said that an early penalty, at 2:20 of overtime when Derek Dorsett was called for interference, was a turning point. Lundqvist made six saves, but the constant pressure wore the Rangers down.
"We never regrouped," Tortorella said. "It was a surge and we couldn't stop it. I thought it was pretty even going into the overtime, but we got spanked in overtime."
The Rangers had just five shots in overtime, including one from Rick Nash, who couldn't beat Tuukka Rask (33 saves) with a wrist shot from point-blank range midway through the OT. Nash, who had a team-high six shots on goal, has not scored a goal in eight playoff games.
Lundqvist, who blamed himself for the game-winner, said, "I've got to see the guy [Marchand] in the middle. I was too focused on the puck." Lundqvist made 45 saves, and also got some help. The Bruins hit the iron four times from the third period on, including twice in overtime (ex-Ranger Jaromir Jagr clanged one off the post in OT).
It was the third overtime loss of the postseason for the Rangers, who fell twice to the Capitals in the first round, 2-1 and 1-0, at Verizon Center.
"A loss is a loss at this point," Rangers captain Ryan Callahan said. "We felt like we were right there. Obviously had a chance to win the game with one shot. But at the same time, we've dealt with this before. It happened to us twice in the Washington series; we've got two days to regroup and we go right back at it."
Mats Zuccarello, who was chasing Marchand on the winner, said, "I didn't think we played up to our standards, but in the overtime, of course we want to win. We don't go out there not trying to score goals. Hank did a good job. They scored, we didn't."
The Rangers had a brief 2-1 lead in the third, when 14 seconds in, Derek Stepan's quick shot from the slot, on a pass from Carl Hagelin, went through Rask's pads for a 2-1 lead. It was Stepan's third goal of the postseason. Ryan McDonagh had tied it on a long shot with 1.3 seconds left in the second.
But when Steve Eminger went off for holding at 1:09 of the third, rookie defenseman Torey Krug scored in his first NHL playoff game at 2:55 to tie it at 2. Krug had just been called up from the minors to replace the injured Dennis Seidenberg, the third regular defenseman for the Bruins who was sidelined.
With 3:44 left in the third, the Rangers had their third power play when Bergeron hooked Stepan, but John Moore was penalized for interference with 2:09 left. The Rangers were 0-for-3 in the game and are 0-for-16 on the road in the playoffs with the man advantage.
The Rangers killed off the penalty but then the Bruins almost won in regulation. Lundqvist made a save with 25 seconds left, Dan Girardi slid to stop Tyler Seguin's blast, and Boychuk hit the far post with one-tenth of a second left.