Rapid reaction: Rangers 5, Bruins 3

The Bruins blew a 3-0 lead and allowed three goals in the final 3:48 of regulation to lose 5-3 to the Rangers Monday night at Madison Square Garden.

Brandon Dubinsky tied the game for the Rangers with 3:48 left, defenseman Michael Sauer scored the game-winner with 2:57 left and Derek Stepan added an empty-netter with :53 left to prevent the Bruins from pulling within two points of the Capitals for second place in the Eastern Conference.

Daniel Paille, Nathan Horton and Chris Kelly scored for the Bruins.

Rangers a scary potential playoff foe. With their 5-3 win Monday, the Rangers jumped into seventh place in the Eastern Conference and moved into a tie at 91 points with Montreal. The Canadiens hold sixth place thanks to having more regulation wins than the Rangers. But with one game in hand on Montreal, there is still a good chance the Rangers could finish in sixth and face the Bruins in the first round. If that were the case, it most likely would be a very physical series, and with two great goalies in Tim Thomas and Henrik Lundqvist, a very low-scoring series.

After Monday's big comeback, the Rangers could hold the mental edge over the Bruins. The Rangers have won three straight over Boston and took the season series 3-1-0. Also of note is that only twice in his career has Lundqvist allowed three or more goals against the Bruins, with both times occurring this season (Monday and Nov. 17).

One positive note for the Bruins is that with his goal Monday, Kelly has three goals in four games against the Rangers this season.

Bruins can’t match New York's desperate intensity. While the Bruins have done their best to mix in players who have been hurt and give some regulars rest in these final games, coach Claude Julien has kept his regulars in the lineup against teams battling for playoff spots and playing playoff-like hockey. They were successful against the Blackhawks last Tuesday in a 3-0 win, but couldn’t maintain that intensity against the Rangers. They appeared to sit back on their 3-0 lead and veered away from their game. Julien has to hope it's a lesson learned as the Bruins wind down the regular season. Yes, they have clinched the division title, but they can’t afford to coast into the playoffs.

Paille and Ryder making a case to stay in lineup. Both healthy scratches of late, Michael Ryder and Daniel Paille have made the most of their chances in the last two games and are making a case that they could help the team in the playoffs. Ryder scored the penalty shot game-winner Saturday against Atlanta and assisted on Paille’s goal 15:16 into the first period. Paille scored Monday in addition to a shorthander on Saturday. Ryder has one advantage on Paille; he has 9 goals and 19 points in 24 playoff games with the Bruins.

Kelly scores first goal as a Bruin. With his second-period goal Monday, Kelly scored his first goal as a Bruin and snapped a 14-game streak without a point. Since being traded to Boston from Ottawa on Feb. 18, Kelly had only two assists. He now has 13 goals and 13 assists in 78 games this season.

Thornton misses another game; Kampfer and Hnidy sit. Shawn Thornton missed his third straight game after suffering a gash from a skate in the Bruins’ 3-0 win over Chicago on March 29. The cut required 40 stitches, and the team has been cautious with his return for fear that the wound may open up again. Defensemen Steven Kampfer and Shane Hnidy were the healthy scratches. Here’s what the forward lines and defensive pairings looked like:

Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton

Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Mark Recchi

Rich Peverley-Chris Kelly-Tyler Seguin

Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Michael Ryder

Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk

Tomas Kaberle-Dennis Seidenberg

Andrew Ference-Adam McQuaid

Only three games left. The Bruins have only three games left in the regular season as they host the Islanders on Wednesday and the Senators on Saturday before finishing the season at New Jersey on Sunday.