And inside, soon after 9:30, the Maple Leafs dimmed the Rangers' playoff chances, tying the score late in the third period and earning a 3-2 victory 39 seconds into overtime on Nikolai Kulemin's wraparound goal.
Kulemin's goal prevented the Rangers from gaining a crucial second point. Should the Rangers miss the playoffs, one damaging stat will stand out: They are 1-7 in overtime.
The killer goal was the soft one that tied the score at 2 at 16:25 of the third period, one that Henrik Lundqvist wanted back. Defenseman Tomas Kaberle fired a shot along the goal line to Lundqvist's left that banked off the goaltender's skate and went in.
"I let in a -- terrible goal," Lundqvist said after slamming one of his pads on the floor in the locker room. "I'm --. I was happy with the way I played before that, but that cost us."
"I feel like we gave a point away," Vinny Prospal said. "It's a tough way to lose. We started well and just never got a third goal."
With the Rangers ahead 2-1 in the third on first-period goals by P.A. Parenteau and Dubinsky, the Leafs were called for a bench minor for too many men, but the Rangers couldn't capitalize.
Then Olli Jokinen was whistled for a questionable cross-check 6:41 into the third, but the Rangers' penalty-kill frustrated the Leafs' power play for the second time, extending their streak to 11-for-11 over four games.
Kulemin hit the post with a 45-foot shot with just under seven minutes to play, and Leafs goaltender Jonas Gustavsson (36 saves), who won his seventh straight game, poked away Parenteau's close-in attempt with under four minutes left.
With 10.6 seconds left in the period, Dubinsky went around the net for a wraparound, Gustavsson couldn't react and the Rangers held a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.
An early misplay in the second period allowed the Leafs to cut their deficit in half. Michael Del Zotto couldn't stay with Mikhail Grabovski behind the net, and his centering pass was snapped past Lundqvist by John Mitchell, who had glided in untouched from the blue line.
Gustavsson made two saves to prevent an insurance goal. He made a gorgeous pad save on a wide-open Sean Avery. Then Erik Christensen had a golden opportunity, but his five-hole shot on a breakaway was smothered with 4:29 left.
Avery left with a left knee injury after Luke Schenn's check at 7:20 of the second period.