NEW YORK — It took 40 years for Original Six rivals Boston and New York to face off again in the playoffs.
The Bruins seem intent on wrapping up the long-awaited get-together in a hurry.
Daniel Paille scored the tiebreaking goal with 3:31 left in the third period — after defenseman Johnny Boychuk got the Bruins even earlier in the period– and Boston put the Rangers on the brink of elimination with a 2-1 victory in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series on Tuesday night.
Boston leads the series 3-0 and can advance to the conference finals as early as Thursday at Madison Square Garden. Only three NHL teams have rallied from an 0-3 hole to advance.
However, the Philadelphia Flyers did it to the Bruins in 2010 in this round.
“We can talk about it all we want, but that’s in the past,” Bruins Coach Claude Julien said. “We had to live with that and we still have to live with that.”
Boston also nearly blew a 3-1 series edge in the opening round this year against Toronto, before rallying from a three-goal deficit in the third period and capturing Game 7 in overtime.
“The Toronto series, I didn’t think our team was in the zone the way it is right now,” Julien said. “I anticipate — knowing my team — that we’re going to come out the same next game and certainly not be the Jekyll and Hyde team that we were in the first round.”
The Bruins trailed 1-0 heading into the third, but Boychuk tied it with his fourth of the playoffs after he netted just one in 44 regular-season games. The Rangers hadn’t lost in regulation when leading after two periods since Feb. 4, 2010.
Boston thought it had grabbed the lead seconds before Paille scored when a shot deflected off the mask of Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, popped up in the air and landed on the goal line. Lundqvist couldn’t find it before Paille swooped in from behind the net and poked in the puck.
“I thought we played a pretty strong game,” Lundqvist said, “but we came up short again and it definitely hurts.”
Taylor Pyatt had made it 1-0 in the second period for the Rangers, who were outscored 8-4 in two losses at Boston to begin the series.
New York had won nine straight at home, including three in the playoffs against Washington in the first round.
Lundqvist was sharp until the third period and finished with 32 saves.
He bounced back well after an uncharacteristic performance in which he allowed five goals in the Game 2 loss.
“You have to be pretty happy with the situation right now,” said Tuukka Rask, who made 23 saves for Boston. “We were really happy with our effort, I think this was our best defensive effort in a long, long time. So we just have to stay calm, keep playing our style of hockey and good things will happen.”
New York’s task is now most difficult. The Rangers were already trying to become the first NHL team to ever rebound from 0-2 holes to win consecutive series.
“You can’t look at it as you have to win four games,” Lundqvist said. “You just have to focus on the next one. The season is on the line, so you have to leave everything out there.
“We definitely have to give everything right now, mentally and physically, and put it out there on Thursday.”
The Rangers again couldn’t get their power play untracked, failing in both of their chances and dropping to 0 for 10 in the series. New York has only two power-play goals in 38 opportunities during these playoffs.
Boychuk was credited with the tying goal after the puck appeared to deflect into the net off Rangers defenseman John Moore.
“You have to be proud of your team,” Julien said. “The Rangers hadn’t lost here in a long time and they were extremely confident. You saw them come out with that confidence. I thought they were a much better team than they had been in Boston.”