In a game in which the bad blood between the Rangers and Senators emerged -- and likely will continue in this playoff series -- Chris Neil scored at 1:17 of overtime as Ottawa tied the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal at a game each with a 3-2 win Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers had gone ahead twice in the angry, chippy game, the second time when Brian Boyle -- a central figure in the nastiness -- scored his second goal of the series at 2:41 of the third period for a 2-1 edge.
"We were four minutes away from winning the hockey game," said Rangers coach John Tortorella, who said 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 in front of a frenzied sellout crowd, was an intense continuation of an increasingly physical series, which continues in Ottawa Monday and Wednesday. The Rangers won Game 1, 4-2, on Thursday at the Garden.
With 9:28 left in the second period and the Rangers clinging to a 1-0 lead after Anton Stralman's first-period goal, 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, then 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, deflected off the defenseman and past Lundqvist to tie it at 13:50.
The challenges started early. Senators coach Paul MacLean sent out tough guys Zenon Konopka, Neil and Matt Carkner to start the game, 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. Carkner jumped Boyle after a check on Zach Smith, and with Boyle on the ice, Carkner threw a series of punches before Brandon Dubinsky charged in. "Boyle's just getting sucker-punched," Staal said. "No one's [officials] 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 left the ice, he picked up and slammed down a huge 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 Anisimov, and the Rangers capitalized. 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.
Boyle declined to discuss the first-period incident but said: "We've stood in there all year and we won't back down."