Sens win battle on Broadway
The Ottawa Senators took on the New York Rangers during the second game of their playoff series at Madison Square Gardens in New York City Saturday April 12, 2012. Ottawa Senator coach Paul MacLean during first period action Saturday night in New York. Tony Caldwell/Ottawa Sun/QMI Agency
The Senators brought the muscle and some scoring punch to Madison Square Garden Saturday night.
Rugged winger Chris Neil scored the OT winner at 1:17, beating Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist with a backhander on the stick side as the Senators evened their first-round series 1-1 with a 3-2 victory.
Neil had a big grin after the game.
“It was simple. That’s what wins hockey games. We were able to do that,” said Neil. “We just stuck with it. We got a lucky bounce on the first goal, but we kept with it. It was one of those games everyone stepped up.
“To score an overtime goal is pretty exciting. Being able to split here in this fun atmosphere, I can’t wait to see what it’s going to be like at home.”
It looked like Rangers forward Brian Boyle, the villain after Game 1, might have the last laugh when he gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead at 2:41 of the third. That lasted until Nick Foligno tied it up to send it to OT at 15:23 of the third.
Lundqvist and Craig Anderson both had strong performances. Erik Karlsson had his seventh point in eight playoff games. Antron Stralman beat Anderson on the power play in the first period.
But news could be bad for the Senators as they return home for Game 3 Monday at Scotiabank Place after captain Daniel Alfredsson left the game in the second period after a brutal elbow to the head from Rangers forward Carl Hagelin, who was given a five-minute major and game misconduct.
Alfredsson, in what could be his final playoff run, suffered a concussion earlier this season and missed five games after being hit by then-Rangers winger Wojtek Wolski. That doesn’t bode well for the Senators in a tight, low-scoring series.
The Senators had no update on Alfredsson after the game.
“I thought our team responded all night long,” said Senators coach Paul MacLean. “With the ebb and flow of the game, I thought we handled momentum changes way better than we did in the first game.
“We obviously grew as a team after Game 1 and we grew again as a team (Saturday.”
Anderson said the Senators didn’t like the Alfredsson hit.
“It’s a tough moment when you lose one of your best players,” said Anderson. “He’s the heart and soul of our team. He brings so much for us.
“We rallied around the incident. We rallied around being together as a group. We buckled down, we put the work boots on and we found a way to get one for him.”
Then there was the matter of Boyle, who took liberties with Karlsson in Game 1.
Feeling his team had been pushed around, coach Paul MacLean dressed tough guys Matt Carkner and Zenon Konopka into the lineup on Saturday.
Only 2:15 in, Boyle bumped Karlsson and Carkner unleashed a barrage of unanswered punches on the 6-foot-7 Ranger that earned Carkner a five-minute major and game misconduct after only 39 seconds of ice time.
Brandon Dubinsky tried to jump in to Boyle’s defence and a melee ensued.
Dubinsky, who was also tossed out, tried to leave the penalty box to get at the officials before being restrained.
Later, Neil and Boyle dropped the gloves in a brief bout.
Konopka said a message had to be sent to Boyle.
“It’s something where we have to take care of our own,” said Konopka. “We have to take care of our family members. Karlsson’s a critical, critical part to our machine and it’s something that you’ve got to draw a line in the sand. We did that (Saturday night).”
The incident set the tone for a rough-and-tumble night, but Carkner could be facing a hearing with league VP of discipline Brendan Shanahan.
The Senators tied it up 1-1 thanks to Karlsson’s first of the playoffs. He got a lot of help from Michael Del Zotto when Karlsson’s attempted pass deflected off the defenceman’s skate and by Lundqvist.
The goal came at 13:51 of the second with the Senators on a five-minute power play after Hagelin’s nasty shot on Alfredsson.
“We were able to get some big goals and get some chances,” said Foligno. “We had other people step up. We had guys playing different roles they’re not used to playing and we had contributions from everybody.”