The margin of error went from slim to none in an uncharacteristic home loss that put the Broadway Blueshirts on the brink of elimination.
New York squandered a one-goal lead in the third period and lost 2-1 on Tuesday night to fall into an 0-3 series hole. The Rangers can be ousted by the Bruins as early as Thursday in Game 4 at home.
"We'll meet (Wednesday), practice, and we're going to try to win a game," Tortorella said. "That's all you can do. Down 3-0, it's a very tough situation, but I have full faith in our athletes. They will be ready to play another game.
"You try to win one and see where you go from there."
After two losses in Boston, the Rangers seemed headed toward getting back into it. They had won nine straight at Madison Square Garden, dating to the final six games of the regular season, and hadn't lost in regulation when leading after two periods in more than three years.
Only three NHL teams have rallied from an 0-3 hole to advance. However, the Philadelphia Flyers did it to the Bruins in 2010.
"We haven't talked about history at all," Tortorella said. "We just try to go about our business."
Bruins coach Claude Julien discussed it briefly, but only when asked about the collapse three years ago and another near one in the first round this year when Toronto nearly eliminated Boston after trailing the series 3-1.
"We can talk about it all we want, but that's in the past," Julien said. "We had to live with that and we still have to live with that."
The Bruins did some rallying of their own in that one, erasing a three-goal deficit in the third period of Game 7 before winning in overtime.
"The Toronto series, I didn't think our team was in the zone the way it is right now," Julien said. "I anticipate — knowing my team — that we're going to come out the same next game and certainly not be the Jekyll and Hyde team that we were in the first round."
The Bruins shook off the 2010 collapse and swept Philadelphia in the conference semifinals the following year before going on to win the Stanley Cup.
The Rangers haven't been swept since New Jersey did it to them in 2006 in the first round.
"You can't look at it as you have to win four games," said Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who stayed down on his knees for several moments after Paille's goal. "You just have to focus on the next one. The season is on the line, so you have to leave everything out there.
"We definitely have to give everything right now, mentally and physically, and put it out there on Thursday."
Boychuk tied it with his fourth of the playoffs after he netted just one in 44 regular-season games.
Boston thought it had grabbed the lead seconds before Paille scored when a shot deflected off the mask of Lundqvist, popped up in the air and landed on the goal line. Lundqvist couldn't find it before Paille swooped in from behind the net and poked in the puck.
Taylor Pyatt had made it 1-0 in the second period for the Rangers, who were outscored 8-4 in two games at Boston. Lundqvist was sharp in making 32 saves. He bounced back well after allowing five goals in the Game 2 loss.
"You have to be pretty happy with the situation right now," said Tuukka Rask, who made 23 saves for Boston. "We were really happy with our effort. I think this was our best defensive effort in a long, long time. We just have to stay calm, keep playing our style of hockey, and good things will happen."
The Rangers again couldn't get their power play untracked, failing in both of their chances and dropping to 0-for-10 in the series. New York has only two power-play goals in 38 opportunities during these playoffs.
Boychuk was credited with the tying goal after the puck appeared to deflect into the net off Rangers defenceman John Moore.
The game turned rougher moments later when New York forward Chris Kreider was struck under his visor by the stick of Boston's Tyler Seguin, who was following through on a shot just inside the blue line. Seguin was then clipped in the exchange by the stick of Rangers defenceman Steve Eminger.
Shortly after, Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron had a cut over his eye that left his white jersey bloodstained. No penalties were called on any of the plays.
New York took just its second lead of the series 3:53 into the second period when Pyatt deflected in a shot by defenceman Ryan McDonagh.
Lundqvist shined in the second, making a pad stop on Seguin about 6 1/2 minutes in, stretching across to knock away a drive by rookie defenceman Torey Krug — who scored in each of the first two games of the series — and then bringing the crowd to its feet with a lunging glove snare of Gregory Campbell's slap shot from the left circle with 8:24 remaining.
That got the Bruins even in shots (15-15) before they outshot New York 8-1 the rest of the second.
The Rangers got off to a sluggish start after losing the opening faceoff, and didn't mount any kind of early surge fueled by the excited home crowd. New York didn't carry the puck into the Boston end until 1:35 had elapsed.
New York got trapped in its end more and more as the game went on, and got caught there again on the winning goal.
"They just kept us in the end zone, bouncing around, and Paille beat our defenceman back to the net and scored the goal," Tortorella said. "We just didn't spend enough time in their end zone."
The Rangers picked up their play and built a 6-1 edge in shots, including scoring opportunities on Rask. New York earned the first power play of the night, however it was as ineffective as it has been throughout the post-season.
The tide turned back to the Bruins' favour just before the midway point in the period, starting with a partial breakaway after New York turned over the puck at the Boston blue line. Chris Kelly raced ahead with the puck and was stopped in tight by Lundqvist when he tried a backhanded shot.
Shawn Thornton was also denied when he came in alone on Lundqvist with 8:46 left in the period, and Jaromir Jagr couldn't score, either, when he got a pair of whacks at the puck that the New York goalie turned aside.
The Bruins' surge gave them an 8-7 edge in shots, but Boston finished the period trailing 11-9.
"We were down but we weren't playing that poorly," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said of the team's third-period mindset. "We needed to stay aggressive, try to tie the game. We just wanted to get pucks to the net. We did that and we were rewarded."
NOTES: The Rangers didn't yield a power-play chance for the second straight home game. ... New York D Anton Stralman was injured in the second period and didn't return. ... Since Boston trailed 4-1 in Game 7 against Toronto, Rask has allowed five goals in four-plus games.
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