GREENBURGH, N.Y. — The surprise boost the Rangers received in their season-saving Game 4 victory Thursday night came from more than overtime hero Chris Kreider and Vezina Trophy goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
Coach John Tortorella cobbled together a new fourth line to match the grit and relentless play of the Bruins and give his team a jolt of energy after it fell behind Boston, three games to none, in this second-round series.
The trio of Micheal Haley, Kris Newbury, and Derek Dorsett proved the perfect tonic — at least for one game — to the Bruins’ supremely effective fourth line of Daniel Paille, Shawn Thornton, and Gregory Campbell. Paille’s line played a huge role in Boston’s 2-1 win in Game 3 in New York as he scored the winning goal after assisting on defenseman Johnny Boychuk’s tying score.
Rangers captain Ryan Callahan lauded New York’s new line, which played about only eight minutes but gave the Rangers a discernible surge, especially late in the game.
“Newbs and Hales created good energy and played a lot of strong shifts in Boston’s end,’’ Callahan said. “They stepped right in and played well. We needed that.”
Game 4 marked the playoff debut for the 27-year-old Haley and only the second postseason game for Newbury, a veteran of 10 seasons in the AHL.
Dorsett, a right wing acquired from Columbus in the late-season trade that sent Marian Gaborik to the Blue Jackets, had only three games of playoff experience before this spring.
Haley marveled at the palpable tension and excitement of a playoff contest at Madison Square Garden.
“The energy before the game was incredible — even the national anthem gave me goose bumps,’’ said Haley, who spent most of his career in the New York Islanders organization. “Our mission was to go out and give our best energy every shift. We wanted to make their team look over their shoulders.”
The efforts paid off as the Rangers rallied from deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 to force overtime, where Kreider scored at 7:03 to send the series back to Boston for Game 5 Saturday.
Tortorella, who benched All-Star center Brad Richards for Game 4 with the plan of creating a fresh fourth line, praised the Haley-Newbury-Dorsett unit.
“They did a good job,’’ he said. “Our team is a team that doesn’t give. We keep working hard and playing strong shifts. We battled through and have our chance in Boston now. It’s about one game at a time.”
Tortorella, who won the Stanley Cup with Richards and the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004, drew criticism for leaving his underachieving center off the ice in an elimination game.
The 33-year-old Richards, winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2004, struggled badly this season. He had just one goal in 10 playoff games and had been demoted to the fourth line, a shocking fall for the gifted playmaker.
So Tortorella decided to sit a player long known as a personal favorite. Richards is completing the second year of a nine-year, $58.5 million contract he signed in July 2011.
Because Richards — who didn’t skate with the team during Friday’s 20-minute practice — was absent in Game 4, Tortorella was able to elevate Kreider to a line with Rick Nash and Derick Brassard, the team’s leading scorer in the playoffs and also part of the Gaborik trade. The move also allowed the Rangers to roll four lines steadily throughout the game.
Kreider wasn’t available Friday following his heroics about 12 hours earlier, but Tortorella gave high marks to the 22-year-old left wing, who fought through an arduous season after his breakout last spring when he scored five playoff goals as the Rangers reached the Eastern Conference finals.
“I’m glad for Chris, it’s terrific,’’ the coach said. “We had a different look and we had success. We found a way to get it done because he and the team battled through it.”
Newbury, the scoring leader for the Rangers’ affiliate in Hartford this season, has played 599 AHL games over 10 seasons.
The 31-year-old right wing smiled as he mulled the uproarious celebration the night before at Madison Square Garden after Kreider tipped a perfect cross-ice pass from Nash past Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask.
“It was crazy, something special I’ll never forget,’’ said Newbury, mindful the Rangers still have a huge uphill climb in this series. “We know their fourth line plays hard and scores goals. We definitely worked to match their energy and I think we accomplished that. Now we have to keep it going.”