KANATA, Ont. -- Brian Boyle continued to play the villain against the Ottawa Senators on Monday night.
Booed all night and taunted at times by the sellout crowd at Scotiabank Place, Boyle responded with his third goal of the series as the top-seeded New York Rangers beat the Senators 1-0 in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.
The Rangers lead the series against eighth-seeded Senators 2-1, with Game 4 scheduled for Wednesday night in Ottawa.
Boyle said it's the first time he's been singled out by fans on the road as a pro, and that's just fine with him.
"Honestly, it was surprising," Boyle said. "If I'm the villain to them, that's good."
In Game 2, Boyle was the center of attention after he roughed up Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson in Game 1. Defenseman Matt Carkner supplied retribution in the second game by punching Boyle to the ice in the first period, earning a one-game suspension in the process.
Boyle is enjoying a goal-scoring surge with eight goals in his past 12 games dating to the regular season. His goal Monday was the result of a long shot by defenseman Dan Girardi that bounced off the boards, off the side of the net, and right onto his stick for a backhand chip over Senators goaltender Craig Anderson at 7:35 of the third period to break a scoreless deadlock.
In his first 70 games this season, Boyle had just three goals. He still has no idea what has happened to transform him into an offensive juggernaut.
"If I did, I probably would've tried to do it a lot earlier," Boyle said. "That one comes out, hits the net, so it's tough for Anderson when it bounces off the wall that hard and hits the net and comes from another angle and I'm facing it the whole time. It's kind of just a whack at it where I'm trying to put it in a general area and fortunately it went there. A lot of times it doesn't, but fortunately for us it did."
If Boyle is the primary villain to the Senators, then goaltender Henrik Lundqvist can't be that far behind after his brilliant showing in Game 3.
Lundqvist made 39 saves, including a pair of stops seconds before Boyle's goal on defenseman Sergei Gonchar and rookie forward Colin Greening on the ensuing rebound. He stopped 14 shots in the third period for his fourth playoff shutout and first since 2009.
"Once again, as has been the story all year, No. 30 back there, the guy was unbelievable," Boyle said. "He was the biggest difference, I think."
Lundqvist saved his best for last. With Anderson on the bench for an extra attacker in the final seconds of regulation, Lundqvist came up with a point-blank save on Kyle Turris, who was all alone in front of the net.
"Henrik was there," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "We have an identity we've tried to cultivate in our locker room -- and every time he plays, it starts with him."
There wasn't much bitterness or many post-whistle shenanigans in Game 3, just plenty of great defense and goaltending during a scoreless opening two periods.
The Senators generated several great chances during the first period, but their power play failed to convert on two attempts. Lundqvist made a nice save on Chris Neil, who scored the OT winner in Game 2, at the right post with Boyle and Brandon Prust, two of the Rangers' top penalty killer, in the box for roughing.
One of the best individual efforts of the first 20 minutes came from Karlsson, who used a quick stick to break up a 2-on-1 chance then joined the rush and fired a hard shot on net from the right wing that was stopped by Lundqvist.
Early in the second period with the Senators pressuring, Rangers defenseman Stu Bickel made the save of the game. The puck squirted to the left circle to Jim O'Brien, whose wrist shot toward a mostly open net was deflected away by a sliding Bickel.
Anderson had to come up big as well in the second period. He made a sprawling stop on a puck that was inches away from crossing the goal line. The play was reviewed, and replays showed the puck never crossed the line.
The Rangers' downfall in Game 2 was how they sat back with a lead, allowing Nick Foligno to send the game to overtime with a goal late in the third period. Two nights later, the Rangers did a better job of remaining aggressive with the game on the line late.
"We were better," Tortorella said. "We had a shift with four or five minutes left where we turned the puck over and that's what changed it a little bit, but we battled from there. Hank made a couple of huge saves."
It's been an extremely tight three games between the team except for a six-minute stretch in the series opener in which the Rangers scored on three of four shots. That burst seems to be an aberration, and Boyle expects things to be even tighter in Game 4.
"They're probably going to come physical," Boyle said. "Between the whistles, it's going to be physical. That's just going to keep elevating. It's going to keep going up. The building's going to be rocking."
The Senators were without their captain, Daniel Alfredsson, who sat out with a concussion sustained when he was rammed into the boards by Carl Hagelin in Game 2. Hagelin wasn't on the ice either -- the hit on Alfredsson earned him a three-game suspension.
"We missed him for sure," forward Nick Foligno said. "He's our leader, he's our captain. He really creates a lot when he's out there. Hopefully he's getting ready to come back and he'll be in for Game 4."
Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo