OTTAWA - Brian Boyle is quickly becoming a huge thorn in the Ottawa Senators side.
The New York forward scored the winner Monday night as the Rangers defeated the Senators 1-0 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarter-final.
The Rangers lead the series 2-1. Game 4 is set for Wednesday in Ottawa.
Boyle can hardly be considered a superstar, but aside from goaltender Henrik Lundqvist he has made the biggest difference in this series.
He has scored in all three games and been a dominant physical presence for the Rangers.
“We’ve got to make sure we pay attention to him,”said Senators coach Paul MacLean.“He’s a big, strong guy and went to the net and got himself a goal and that’s the way he’s been doing it and that’s good for them, good for him and we just have to make sure we mark him a little bit better.”
It’s no surprise the Senators didn’t anticipate Boyle being a difference maker in this series, but not even the 27-year-old expected this kind of success.
“If I’m the villain to them that’s good,”said Boyle following the game.“If I knew (I would score this often) I probably would have tried to do it a lot earlier. It’s been fortunate bounces.”
Both goaltenders had to be at their best and on this night they matched one another save-for-save, with the exception of one.
Henrik Lundqvist earned the shutout stopping 39 shots, while Ottawa's Craig Anderson stopped 22 shots.
Lundqvist's biggest save came in the last minute, robbing Kyle Turris with a quick pad save.
“I think we all felt we needed this (win),”said Lundqvist, who picked up his fourth career shutout.“We needed to close this one off after we let the last one slip away. It’s an unbelievable feeling.”
The Senators admitted to feeling some frustration regarding the outcome of the game, but at the same time feel confident heading into Game 4.
“I thought we played really well and thought we took it to them for the majority of that game, it’s just Lundqvist was really good for them,”said Ottawa’s Nick Foligno.“That’s not to take anything away from (Anderson) because he was outstanding, but they were able to find a squeaky one. I think we need to do more of the same except to get a couple.”
The Senators played without captain Daniel Alfredsson who continues to suffer the effects from a hit to the head by Carl Hagelin in Game 2. Bobby Butler replaced Alfredsson.
Hagelin was suspended for three games and in his absence Chris Kreider was inserted into New York's lineup. Kreider was making his NHL debut.
While MacLean would have preferred to have Alfredsson in the lineup he had no complaints regarding his team’s performance.
“We could be standing here talking about us winning 1-0 just as easy as we’TS talking about them beating us 1-0,”said MacLean.“Certainly we missed Alfie in the game, but I thought the team really stepped up and played well in his absence.”
Scoreless after 40 minutes the third period promised to be entertaining and it didn't disappoint.
The Senators dominated play early in the period, forcing Lundqvist to make a number of saves. It was following one of these flurries that the Rangers regained possession and opened the scoring.
Boyle took a rebound off the side of the net and backhanded it past Anderson to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead at 7:35 of the third period.
“It’s tough for Anderson when it bounces off the wall that hard and then hits the net and comes at another angle and I’m facing it the whole time,”said Boyle.“I tried to put it in the general area and fortunately it went there, but a lot of times it doesn’t, but again fortunately for us it did.”
With 7:09 remaining the Senators went on the power play, but it was short lived as Chris Phillips took a slashing penalty on Boyle who had a breakaway opportunity.
The Senators dominated much of the second period, outshooting the Rangers 13-8, but that's not to say New York didn't have their chances.
At the 11-minute mark of the second, Ruslan Fedotenko had a shot hit the post and on the rebound managed to get just enough of the puck that it trickled across the goal-line as both Anderson and forward Jason Spezza dove to smother it.
After an official review, it was clear the puck did not cross the goal-line.
Anderson made a great save on Brandon Dubinsky late in the period to uphold the stalemate.
Lundqvist was forced to make a number of stops in the second as Ottawa's fourth line wreaked havoc. Jim O'Brien was stopped twice and Erik Condra and Zack Smith each had a great chance as well.
“We ran into a hot goaltender (Monday) said Anderson.“We just have to find a way to get more traffic and put a couple by him."
Turris also missed a great opportunity midway through the period.
“I need to score on those chances.”
A scoreless first period featured chances by both teams, but neither was able to capitalize, despite both having power play opportunities. Both teams have struggled with the man advantage through this series.
Both teams finished the night 0-for-3 with the man advantage.
The Senators haven't won a playoff game on home ice since Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007, a losing streak that now spans seven games.
Ottawa is now 0-3 in the post-season when playing without Alfredsson in the lineup.
Notes: Ottawa D Chris Phillips played his 100th playoff game. The Senators were without RW Daniel Alfredsson (concussion, day-to-day), C Peter Regin (shoulder, out for season). D Matt Carkner served his one-game suspension. LW Kaspars Daugavins and C Rob Klinkhammer were a healthy scratch. The Rangers were without D Michael Sauer (concussion, indefinitely) and D Steve Eminger (right ankle, day-to-day), RW Mats Zuccarello (fractured left wrist, out indefinitely). LW Carl Hagelin served his first of a three-game suspension. LW John Scott, D Jeff Woywitka and C Chad Kolarik were healthy scratches.