By Jim Cerny, BlueshirtsUnited.com
Henrik Lundqvist made 39 saves to earn his fourth career playoff shutout as the Rangers regained home-ice advantage, and took a 2-1 series lead, with a thrilling 1-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators In Game Three of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series Monday night at Scotiabank Place.
Brian Boyle snapped a scoreless tie 7:35 into the third period, backhanding a shot from in close past Craig Anderson with Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi earning the assists. The goal was Boyle's third of the series---and eighth in his last 12 games. It also had to be extra special for Boyle, who was booed throughout the game by the Ottawa crowd.
Moments before Boyle's goal, Lundqvist Lundqvist made a pair of scintillating stops on Ottawa's Colin Greening from point-blank range, and Anton Stralman made two sensational defensive plays swatting the puck out of danger.
While the game was played at a fast-pace and with plenty of hard hitting, it did not have war-like feel like Game Two on Saturday did. Instead the focus was on the goaltenders, who both were on top of their game right from the first drop of the puck, and got better when challeneged more as the game wore on.
Lundqvist stopped all 12 shots he faced in the first period, and all 13 the Sens sent his way in the second. He was particularly strong standing up to Ottawa's repeated crashing of his crease with in-tight scoring chances. Lundqvist also received some big help from Stu Bickel who slid across the crease midway through the second to block an open shot when Lundqvist was caught on the other side of the net after making an initial save.
Though Anderson was tested less often---he faced 8 shots in each of the first two periods---he was forced to make more difficult saves than Lundqvist, including a point-blank save late in the second on Brandon Dubinsky and sensational lunging stop on a wide-open Brandon Prust in the middle of the same period.
Chris Kreider, the Rangers top pick in the 2009 NHL Draft who signed his first pro contract a week ago, made his NHL debut with Carl Hagelin serving the first game of his three-game league-imposed suspension for elbowing Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson in Game Two. Kreider, who skated on the top line with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik, grew more steady as the game wore on and came within inches of scoring the game's first goal in the final seconds of the middle period when he chipped a rebound under Anderson's glove, but just wide of the cage.
Alfredsson did not play for Ottawa despite taking part in the morning skate.