By Jim Cerny, BlueshirtsUnited.com
In a contest that was pure open warfare right from the game's early shifts Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, the Ottawa Senators prevailed over the Rangers with a 3-2 overtime victory which evened this best-of-seven first-round series at one game apiece.
Chris Neil---a major pest throughout this riveting game---slipped a backhand behind Henrik Lundqvist 1:17 into the overtime period for the game-winning goal. It came during a wild scramble after Jared Cowen's point shot hit Ryan McDonagh in the midsection, leaving the puck by Neil's stick at the top of the crease.
Ottawa had tied the game with just 4:37 remaining in the third period when an unfortunate bounce of the puck between Marc Staal's legs set the stage for Nick Folgno to swat the disc past Lundqvist's outstretched arms. Brian Boyle's second goal in as many games---and seventh in his last 11 contests---had given the Rangers a 2-1 lead 2:41 into the third period, Ruslan Fedotenko---who played a dynamic game Saturday---and Micheal Del Zotto both made sweet passes to earn assists on Boyle's goal.
The Rangers opened the scoring with Anton Stralman's power play goal through Craig Anderson's five-hole at the 10:11 mark of the first period. Stralman skated into a right-wing blast, with Dan Girardi and Artem Anisimov earning the assists. That goal---Stralman's first career playoff tally---held up until 13:50 had elapsed in the second period when Erik Karlsson's centering pass was accidentally kicked into the Rangers net by Del Zotto.
Game Two was played at a relentless pace and with a much sharper edge than Thursday's opener of the series. Just 2:15 into the contest Ottawa's Matt Carkner jumped Boyle and began raining punches on the defenseless Rangers centerman---reportedly in retaliation for a roughing incident Boyle had engaged in with Karlsson in Game One. Brandon Dubinsky jumped to Boyle's defense, and when the dust settled both Dubinsky and Carkner were ejected from the game and the Rangers had a five-minute power play.
However the Blueshirts failed to score on that major penalty call against Carkner, and managed just two shots on goal in the process.
Midway through the second period New York's Carl Hagelin was assessed a five-minute major for elbowing Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson. The Senators tied the game shortly thereafter on Karlsson's flukey goal, though Alfredsson never returned to the game.
Lundqvist finished with 29 saves for the Rangers, while Anderson stopped 27 shots for Ottawa.
Game Three of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series will take place in Ottawa on Monday night.