NEW YORK — Daniel Paille snapped a tie with 3:31 left in the third period, and the Boston Bruins put the New York Rangers on the brink of elimination with a 2-1 victory in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series last night.
Boston leads the best-of-seven series 3-0 and can advance to the conference finals as early as Thursday at Madison Square Garden. Only three teams in NHL history have rallied from an 0-3 hole to advance.
The Bruins trailed 1-0 heading into the third, but defenseman Johnny Boychuk tied it at 3:10 of the period with his fourth of the playoffs. The Rangers hadn’t lost in regulation when leading after two periods since Feb. 4, 2010.
Boston thought it had grabbed the lead seconds before Paille actually scored when a shot deflected off the mask of Rangers goalie Henrik 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 losses at Boston to begin the series. New York had won nine straight games at home, including three in the playoffs against Washington in the first round.
Lundqvist was sharp until the third period and finished with 32 saves. Tuukka Rask stopped 23 shots in the win.
The Rangers again failed to 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.
Despite being outshot 14-5 in the second period, the Rangers carried a 1-0 lead into the third.
Boychuk was credited with the tying goal after the puck appeared to deflect into the net off Rangers defenseman 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 defenseman 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 defenseman Ryan McDonagh that was fired from the blue line shortly after the Rangers’ second failed power play of the night expired.
New York hasn’t lost in regulation when leading after two periods since Feb. 4, 2010, (86-0-6). The Rangers were 16-0 in those situations during this regular season.
Lundqvist was again the reason why.
He was especially sharp in the second, making a pad stop on Tyler Seguin 6 1-2 minutes in, stretching across to knock away a drive by rookie defenseman 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 get possession of the puck in the first minute and didn’t carry it into the Boston end until 1:35 had elapsed.
But the Rangers picked up their play soon after 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 postseason.
Rangers captain Ryan Callahan took what appeared to be an elbow from hulking Bruins captain Zdeno Chara when they came together along the boards deep in the Boston end. Callahan clipped Chara in the face with his stick, causing a cut on the bridge of the defenseman’s nose.
The tide turned back to the Bruins’ favor 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.
NOTES: A moment of silence was held before the national anthem in honor of the victims of Monday’s tornado in Oklahoma. ... Wayne Gretzky and Sting were among the celebrities in the crowd. ... The Rangers didn’t yield a power-play chance for the second straight home game.