The Rangers said all the right words, but the look of distaste on their collective countenance belied their anger.
The Rangers are developing a dislike for the Ottawa Senators after Saturday night’s 3-2 overtime loss. The Eastern Conference quarterfinal series is tied 1-1. Game 3 is Monday night at Scotiabank Place.
Chris Neil scored the game-winner 1:17 into overtime. Brian Boyle lost a defensive zone faceoff and the Rangers “kind of got running around,” before Neil shoved a shot past Henrik Lundqvist (29 saves).
“It was a big scramble,” Lundqvist said. “I lost track of the puck [and] someone blocked it and it got stuck in front. I just picked it up late.”
Erik Karlsson and Nick Foligno also scored for Ottawa. Craig Anderson stopped 27 of 29 Rangers shots. Boyle and Anton Stralman scored for the Rangers.
Monday night’s game could mark the NHL debut of Chris Kreider as Carl Hagelin could be suspended by the Department of Player Safety for an elbow to the head of Daniel Alfredsson midway through the second period that ended the Ottawa captain’s night.
The Senators would not divulge any information regarding Alfredsson’s condition, although there were unconfirmed reports in the third period that he may have suffered a concussion from the hit.
“It doesn’t matter what I think about it. We’ll see what Brendan [Shanahan] thinks about it,” Senators head coach Paul MacLean said.
Rangers head coach John Tortorella was unconcerned about the prospects that Hagelin could be lost.
“No,” Tortorella said. “If we lose Hagelin, [then Ottawa defenseman Chris] Phillips should get a game, too [for elbowing Ryan Callahan].”
It was not a match for the faint of heart. Instead, it was a game in which fights, hard hits, cross words and scrums after every whistle ruled the night.
Matt Carkner jumped Boyle 2:15 into the game, setting off a chain reaction that saw the Ottawa defenseman and Brandon Dubinsky ejected. Neil fought Boyle later in the period.
“I’m not going to talk about the refs,” Tortorella said. Boyle refused to talk about what had happened in the first.
The Rangers never trailed until Neil’s game-winner. Stralman opened the scoring 10:32 into the first with his first NHL playoff goal. Karlsson, who took 21 shots in 30:06, equalized at the 13:50 mark of the second.
Boyle’s seventh goal in last 11 games dating back to the regular season put the Rangers ahead 2-1 just 2:41 into third. The center one-timed a Ruslan Fedotenko feed from slot over Anderson’s shoulder.
“He’s played really well,” Tortorella said of Boyle. “He loses that last faceoff, but he’s played really well for us in the first two games.”
The Rangers had a lead, but in an emerging theme through the first two games, they were unable to keep Ottawa from controlling the puck in their own end. In Game 1, it was a 20-minute segment spanning the last 10 minutes of the first and the first 10 minutes of the second.
Last night, the Senators held onto the puck in the Rangers end in the third period. Ottawa outshot the Rangers, 10-7, in the period, highlighted by Nick Foligno’s tying goal with 4:37 remaining.
“There’s a natural tendency to get [caught up] defending,” Tortorella said. “We could have made some plays to keep some puck possession. I don’t think we were that bad.”
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.