For three periods, the Rangers played the Bruins evenly. At the end of regulation, the visitors had 30 shots, to 32 for Boston.
The score was tied, 2-2, and it appeared it could have been one of those games destined to last all night. The scoring chances were fairly even, both goaltenders were sharp, and there was a high level of intensity.
But then came overtime. At 2:20, Rangers forward Derek Dorsett was whistled off for interfering with Rich Peverley, and the Bruins went on the power play.
The Bruins didn’t score, but they turned the game on its axis. They pinned the Rangers in their end and peppered goaltender Henrik Lundqvist with shot after shot after shot.
The penalty killers were exhausted, Lundqvist himself was weary, and the Rangers couldn’t get their legs under them. That set the stage for Brad Marchand’s goal at 15:40 of the extra frame, which gave Boston a 3-2 win and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series.
“We never regrouped,’’ said Rangers coach John Tortorella. “There was a surge, we couldn’t stop them.’’
That’s not to say that Tortorella wants to throw the baby out with the bathwater. He wasn’t happy with the loss, nor was he dismayed by the way his team played for most of the night.
“We’re OK, we’re going to need to be better,’’ he said. “If we’re going to win our next game here, we need to be better. I thought it was pretty even going into the overtime, but we got spanked in overtime.’’
Rangers captain Ryan Callahan said having to kill the penalty early in OT made it difficult, and the Bruins had the momentum from that point.
“That has a factor in it,’’ said Callahan. “They had a couple of good chances on their power play, and I think gained some momentum off of it. For whatever reason, it was hard for us to establish a forecheck in overtime. When you’re not doing that, they’re going to have more chances, more opportunities, and I think that was the case.’’
Overtime has not been kind to the Rangers in the 2013 postseason. During their seven-game series against the Capitals, Games 2 and 5 went to an extra period, and New York lost both.
Callahan said because they lost a third game in OT doesn’t mean anything in terms of the big picture.
“A loss is a loss at this point,’’ he said. “Obviously, we felt like we were right there. Obviously, we had a chance to win the game with one shot, but at the same time we’ve dealt with this before. It happened to us twice in the Washington series. We have two days to regroup and we go right back at it.’’
Callahan said the Rangers’ forechecking needs to improve. It was effective at times, but not nearly enough.
“[We need] to keep pucks away from [Tuukka] Rask,’’ said Callahan. “He seems to be handling the puck well and breaking up our forecheck. [We need to] be harder on their [defense], and I think if we do that we’ll create more chances.”
Callahan said the Rangers were opportunistic on offense. After Boston took a 1-0 lead midway through the second, New York answered with a tying goal with just two seconds left in the period.
The Rangers took the lead just 14 seconds into the third, but the Bruins rallied on the power play at 2:55, leading to overtime.
“I don’t think our third period was bad by any means,’’ said Callahan. “I thought it was a bit of a back-and-forth third period. Obviously, they get the equalizer and tie it up. At the same time, I thought we had a good third. In overtime, I don’t think we established a forecheck too well. It seemed like we were dumping it in and they were right out of the zone coming back at us. It’s tough on our [defense], it’s tough on everybody when you don’t have the puck in their end.’’Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com.