Commentary

There will be blood ... and stitches

Rangers, Senators understand that Game 2 nastiness was just the beginning

Updated: April 15, 2012, 9:36 AM ET
By Katie Strang | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Following a lopsided, unremarkable Game 1 between the Rangers and the Senators, the drama and nastiness did not disappoint in Saturday's 3-2 overtime win for Ottawa.

Looking for vengeance after Thursday's 4-2 loss in the opening match of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, the Senators beat the Rangers in a crazy and chaotic grudge match that split the series at 1-all with the two clubs heading to Ottawa.

Chris Neil tallied the winner 77 seconds into overtime to finish a game that was rife with brutal brawls, cringe-inducing hits and just about everything in between. And that appears to be only the precursor for what's to come.

[+] EnlargeBrian Boyle
Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty ImagesBrian Boyle was one assist shy of a Gordie Howe hat trick in Game 2.

As Senators tough guy Zenon Konopka told reporters after the game: "There's going to be a lot of stitches and blood before this series is over."

Ottawa's onslaught came early and, according to the Rangers, wasn't unexpected. Less than three minutes into play, Rangers center Brian Boyle was on his back, being pummeled by Senators defenseman Matt Carkner.

And although the bruising blueliner was tossed from the game after the melee -- Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky also was ejected after jumping into the brawl -- the battle didn't diffuse.

Boyle was targeted again later in the period, this time by Neil, and he dropped the gloves. The Senators seemed eager to show Boyle that he should not have roughed up young defenseman Erik Karlsson two nights prior.

Boyle conceded the Senators likely went after him for a reason but didn't want to discuss the brawl that ensued.

"I'm not talking about the first period," he said.

The hard-working centerman packed a punch of his own with a huge goal to give the Rangers a 2-1 edge at 2:41 of the third, but New York surrendered the lead on Nick Foligno's game-tying goal with 4:37 left in regulation.

Evening the series, the Senators secured momentum for the best-of-seven set as they head home to Ottawa for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Wednesday.

Each team could be without one of its impact players for the next meeting. Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson was forced from the game after a high hit from Carl Hagelin in the second period and did not return. No update was available after the game.

Hagelin could face supplementary discipline for the hit, which earned him a five-minute elbowing major, but he won't be the only player under the microscope.

The NHL's Department of Player Safety is expected to review Hagelin's hit on Alfredsson, as well as Chris Phillips' elbow on Rangers captain Ryan Callahan and the Carkner incident that ignited the game's tension.

The Rangers were not surprised that the hostility heightened from Game 1 to Game 2, and they don't expect it to abate as the series progresses.

Said alternate captain Brad Richards: "I'm sure it will get worse."

Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPN.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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