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Bobby Ryan and Senators steal overtime, 2-1 series lead over Bruins

04.17.17 at 10:13 pm ET
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The Bruins overcame a three-goal deficit in the second period. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins overcame a three-goal deficit in the second period, but lost in overtime to fall behind in their series 2-1. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

At its best, playoff hockey is every emotion one can experience bottled up into 60 minutes — sometimes, dare I even say often, more — of chaos. Its chaos has been gone from Boston for far too long, and it’s as if the Bruins and Senators realized that in a Game 3 showdown that saw a rabid TD Garden crowd experience the highest of highs and lowest of lows in a 4-3 overtime final for the Senators.

In a Marathon Monday that started with the Bruins honoring Dic Donohue four years after his role in defining Boston Strong, the energy and anticipation reverberated through the building as a sellout crowd sang along with Rene Rancourt, and everybody seemed ready to go.

Except the Bruins, of course, who fell on their face out of the gate on home ice, like they did too many times to even count during their two-year absence from postseason play.

With the Bruins in hot pursuit of the game’s first goal, Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson channeled his inner quarterback from behind his own net, and completed a one-on-five Hail Mary pass to Mike Hoffman, who blazed in on Tuukka Rask for one of the prettiest breakaway goals you’ll see all year. It got worse for the Bruins just 25 seconds later, too, as an own-zone turnover from John-Michael Liles kept the B’s hemmed in their own zone, while Ottawa’s forwards danced around the front of Rask’s net before Derick Brassard buried their second goal.

 

The listless first period was not complete for the Bruins with a power play stumble, which of course came late in the first period, as the Bruins failed to put a single shot on goal during their gift of a power play, and skated to an 0-2 deficit through one period of play, and with just three shots on Senators goaltender Craig Anderson in the process.

Ottawa extended their edge to 3-0 on their 17th shot of the game, as Hoffman ripped a slapshot through Rask at 3:42 of the second period, and you could not help but feel as if this game was all but lost for the no-showing Bruins.

A three-year wait, for this? Yuck. Can we all just get a redo and come back tomorrow?

But the Garden crowd was brought to their feet with the deflection of Noel Acciari, one of the B’s most sorely missed during the first two games of this series, as he redirected a Liles shot through Anderson to cut Ottawa’s lead to two. 42 seconds later, it was No. 42, David Backes, that took advantage of a whiffed attempt by Bobby Ryan to break in alone and score the B’s second goal.

Rask followed those goals up with a huge save on Mark Stone, which kept this a one-goal game, and showed that he was not broken by the second Hoffman goal, as Stone’s shot was the first puck fired on him since the second Hoffman tally.

OK, maybe pause that redo thing. We had a game cookin’ up at the Garden.

And following a straight-up stupid penalty from Dion Phaneuf, who failed to move Backes out of the crease with his body, instead resorting to cheap tactics with a brutal slash to the hands, it was David Pastrnak that made him pay with a one-time rocket.

In a matter of 7:46 and six shots, the Bruins erased a three-goal hole, and were back even through 40 minutes of action.

And in a game that got better as it went on, the third period did not disappoint.

The Bruins created numerous chances on Anderson, and with the Boston crowd singing his name on each B’s possession in the Ottawa end, and none were better than two looks from David Krejci, playing in his first game of the series.

Down four of their regular seven defensemen, the Bruins by all means moved to a three-man rotation in the third period, too, with Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy logging big minutes, while Kevan Miller stepped up as the third man on the point. Their efforts were not for naught in the final frame, too, as the Bruins held the Sens to just four shots through 17 minutes.

And after they survived six defensive zone faceoffs in the final minute and a half of hockey, it was off to overtime.

It was there where you found your heart your throat as Acciari came up with a big block on Cody Ceci just a minute into the overtime. It was there that your anger boiled when Dominic Moore was hauled down without a penalty called. That turned to a rage when Riley Nash was whistled for roughing Ryan after Ryan elbowed him on the head on his way down.

And it was on that power play that Ryan scored, and sunk the Bruins just 5:33 into the overtime.

This game simply had it all. The energy with each hit that shook the glass and echoed throughout the boards, the anger of some straight-up dreadful officiating, and the reminder that this atmosphere is unlike anything else in sports.

And to see it end the way it end is just a shame.

But the good news? The Bruins and Senators get to do this all over again for Wednesday night’s Game 4.

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