NEW YORK — Chris Kreider steered in a pass from Rick Nash 7:03 into overtime, and the New York Rangers stayed alive in the Stanley Cup playoffs with a 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.
New York, which erased 2-0 and 3-2 deficits in the critical Game 4 matchup in the Eastern Conference semifinals, still trails the series 3-1. The Rangers will need to win again on Saturday in Boston to force a Game 6 back in Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers, who were outshot 40-32, won a faceoff deep in their zone, and Nash rushed the puck up ice. He stopped above the right circle and fed a hard pass in front that Kreider skated into and tipped past goalie Tuukka Rask for his first goal of the playoffs.
Derek Stepan and Brian Boyle scored tying goals in the third period for the Rangers, who even found success on the power play. Carl Hagelin netted New York’s first goal of the game in the second period.
Henrik Lundqvist made 37 saves.
Boston got second-period goals from Nathan Horton and rising star Torey Krug to build an early lead. Tyler Seguin’s first of the playoffs put the Bruins back on top 3-2 in the third.
Only three teams have lost a series after leading 3-0, but the Bruins are the most recent to do it in 2010 against Philadelphia. One more win will put Boston back into the conference finals for the second time in three years.
Stepan got New York even at 2 just 1:15 into the third after a dump-in. Rask went behind the net to slow the puck down for defenseman Zdeno Chara, but Stepan forced a turnover when he surprised Chara from behind.
Stepan gathered the puck, came around in front and tucked the puck inside the left post for his team-leading fourth of the playoffs.
But the Bruins made the most of another power play and took a 3-2 lead just 2 seconds after a goalie interference penalty against Ryan McDonagh expired. Seguin got to his own rebound in close and shoved a shot past Lundqvist at 8:06.
However, the Rangers still wouldn’t go away and they finally connected on the power play for the first time in the series and just the third time in 41 man-advantages this postseason.
Boyle took a pass from Stepan in the slot and snapped a drive that nestled into the middle of the net at 10:00 after the Bruins were caught with too many men on the ice.
Given another power play 2 minutes later, the Rangers couldn’t make it two in a row.
New York coach John Tortorella made desperate moves with his lineup, hoping to find some chemistry to spark his club. Tortorella benched star center Brad Richards, who had just one goal in the playoffs, and rugged forward Arron Asham in favor of seldom-used Kris Newbury and Micheal Haley.
Veteran Roman Hamrlik also played for the first time in these playoffs in place of injured defenseman Anton Stralman, who left Game 3 in the second period.
The Bruins used their power play to grab control in the second period, connecting twice in a span of 3:02 to take a 2-0 lead.
After Newbury was sent off for goalie interference, when he knocked down Rask, Horton got the scoring going.
The Boston forward tried to feed a pass from the bottom of the left circle into the slot, but the puck hit Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto and bounced back to Horton. This time, Horton let a shot go that struck the inside of Lundqvist’s left leg and caromed into the net at 4:39.
Lundqvist blocked a hard shot by Chara, who rattled a drive off of the goalie’s mask. At the next stoppage, there was a brief delay as Lundqvist had repairs made to the mask.
Del Zotto took an interference penalty 1:25 after Boston took the lead, and Krug made the Rangers pay again. Krug, a rookie defenseman who made his NHL postseason debut in the series opener, fired a slap shot from the Stanley Cup logo in the Rangers’ zone that sailed past Lundqvist and into the top right corner at 7:41.
Krug has scored in three of the four games he has played in this series, and his goal gave Boston as many power-play tallies at Madison Square Garden in this playoff year as the host Rangers have mustered.
However, New York got a big break just 54 seconds later to cut the deficit in half.
As the Rangers were moving the puck up ice, Rask stumbled in the crease and fell at around the same time that Hagelin was backhanding a shot on net. Sliding as slowly as possible, the puck eluded Rask as he tried to recover in time to stop it.
New York was energized by the goal and picked up its pace in the ensuing minutes as the crowd got louder. The Rangers put pressure on Rask, but couldn’t net the equalizer in the second period — despite getting their second power play of the game.
It took nearly seven minutes before New York recorded its first shot on Rask — a drive by defenseman John Moore — and Boston controlled the period with a 12-4 edge in shots.
The Rangers had trouble completing even seemingly simple passes, despite receiving only minimal pressure by the Boston forecheck. Another early power play was killed easily by the Bruins and generated only one shot.
NOTES: The Rangers are 5-6 in Game 4 when trailing 3-0. … Before Game 1, the Rangers and Bruins hadn’t gone to overtime against each other in the playoffs since March 27, 1958.