OTTAWA -- Forgive Craig Anderson if he was having flashbacks in the early stages Wednesday night against the New York Rangers, but pucks were whipping past him in similar fashion to the onslaught he faced in a Game 1 loss at Madison Square Garden.
The Senators fell into a two-goal hole in the early stages of Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series as the Rangers struck for a pair of power-play goals in the first 6:10 of the contest. Anderson allowed two goals on six shots, and the Senators looked like a team about to be pushed to the brink by the East's top team.
Instead, Anderson went into lockdown mode, stopping the final 27 shots he faced -- including two in overtime just before Kyle Turris snapped home the winner at 2:42 to give the eighth-seeded Senators a 3-2 victory that evened the best-of-seven series at 2-2.
Anderson also made a huge save on Marc Staal seconds before Milan Michalek converted an odd-man rush into a backhand goal midway through the second period to get the Senators on the board and spark a comeback when things were beginning to look bleak at Scotiabank Place.
For coach Paul MacLean, Anderson's play when the Senators fell behind 2-0 made the difference.
"I thought he was our best player," MacLean said. "He kept it at 2-0 and made two saves before the goal in overtime as well. I thought he was outstanding. I thought he showed great leadership and competitiveness for the team."
Anderson's stops on Brad Richards and Mike Rupp allowed for a 2-on-2 rush with Jim O'Brien carrying the puck along the left side with Turris on his right. O'Brien cut to the middle and dropped the puck to Turris, who skated to the top of the left circle and fired a dart through the legs of defenseman Anton Stralman and over the catching glove of the Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who fell to 1-7 in playoff overtime in his career and has dropped his last seven OT decisions.
It was a small measure of revenge for Turris, who nearly sent Game 3 to overtime in the final seconds but was turned aside at point-blank range by Lundqvist in a 1-0 loss.
This time, Turris made no mistake in picking the top right corner on Lundqvist to send the series back to New York for Saturday night's Game 5 at Madison Square Garden, but he admitted afterward that wasn't his intention in letting go of that shot.
"I was just trying to get it through because they blocked so many shots," Turris said of the Rangers, who blocked 30 in the game. "I wasn't trying to place it somewhere. It's definitely up there. To score in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in overtime is something I think every kid dreams of. It was very exciting, that’s for sure."
Center Jason Spezza, who briefly left the game near the end of the second period following a collision with Staal, said Turris showed why the Senators acquired him from the Phoenix Coyotes in the middle of the season.
"He's been great for us ever since he's been here," Spezza said. "He's given us extra depth through the middle that's so valuable in this League. That's a heck of a shot and a huge goal for us. Now we're playing a 2-of-3. We're in a good spot and excited to be in this."
Stralman and Ryan Callahan scored on the power play to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead after the team had gone 1-for-11 with the extra man in the first three games of the series. Stralman moved to the right circle from his point position and fired home a rebound of a Richards shot to make it 1-0 at the 49-second mark with his second goal of the series. Callahan followed with his second goal in four games off a scramble that was again started by Richards.
There were a combined 12 power-play chances in the game, and Staal nearly made it 3-0 with a chance from the slot that Anderson turned aside as a Rangers' advantage play expired. Senators defenseman Matt Carkner jumped out of the penalty box as the puck arrived and found a streaking Michalek for his first goal of the series to make it 2-1.
Sergei Gonchar tied it when he ripped home a blast during a power play with 2:10 remaining in the second period. There was a mass of hockey humanity in front of Lundqvist, who got a piece of the puck but not enough to prevent it from slithering into the net.
With captain Daniel Alfredsson already out of the lineup and Spezza in the locker room after taking a big hit that left him down on the ice for a few seconds, the Senators had another reason to feel sorry themselves. But like they have all season, they responded to the adversity with a big goal and, eventually, an even bigger win.
That, more than anything, was what was most encouraging to MacLean.
"One thing about this time of year, is you can actually learn a lot about the players, and the players can learn a lot about themselves," MacLean said. "I think we have some players that are really learning some really important things about themselves. I think the play of Kyle Turris has risen as the circumstances have dictated it here. I think his game has really risen.
"We've talked all year about this being a growing year and a foundation for a team to win. The work we did in the regular season has been real good, but the work we're doing right now is huge for us. I think we're really growing at a larger rate right now. I think that's pretty exciting."
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