Game 3 is Tuesday in New York.
“We played well enough to win this game,” a somber Lundqvist said after the game. “It’s really tough to lose. We just have to go home and regroup.”
Lundqvist and his teammates appeared to be headed for a series-tying win before Pageau, who also scored in the first period, notched his second goal of the game at 16:41 of the third period. He then finished his hat trick by deflecting in a Kyle Turris shot after Senators goaltender Craig Anderson was pulled for an extra attacker.
The tying goal had left Lundqvist on one knee, seemingly stunned. Two intermissions and a game-winning goal later, he was still confounded.
“That last deflection, I don’t even know how he did that,” Lundqvist said.
That was just the precursor to Pageau’s derring-do in the second overtime.
“We had faith that we were going to come back, and we did,” said Pageau, an Ottawa native who also scored a playoff hat trick against Montreal in 2013. “You just have to keep working, keep pushing. It definitely feels good.”
For the Rangers, the wrenching defeat sends them back to Madison Square Garden in desperate need of a victory.
Lundqvist, who stopped only 28 of the 34 shots he faced, accepted responsibility for the unsavory outcome.
“I wasn’t good enough coming up with that extra save there in the end,” he said. “It’s a tough place with deflections, but I have to find a way.”
In the first overtime, the Rangers had a golden opportunity to escape with a victory when Rick Nash took the puck from Anderson behind the net. He had a chance to put it in, but it was poked away by Turris.
Nash’s squandered chance came after a stunning reversal in a third period that began with the Rangers seeming assured of heading back home with the series tied at a game apiece.
Now they are under immense pressure to rally against the spirited Senators, who are not playing like the underdogs they were considered before the series.
“Having that resilience is what’s gotten us here in the first place,” Senators defenseman Marc Methot said. “A lot of people didn’t think we’d make the postseason. Here we are in the second round winning games.”
Michael Grabner opened the scoring for the Rangers with a short-handed goal at 4:16 of the first, and Pageau tied the score with an unassisted goal at 13:59.
But the second period yielded three goals for the Rangers and a 4-2 lead for Lundqvist, who has been more than capable of defending such an advantage.
Anderson had to make a flurry of saves early in the second, stopping a frustrated J. T. Miller from close range. Miller, who has one assist and no goals during the playoffs, smacked his stick against the glass after he was denied.
But Chris Kreider, who made his Rangers debut during a 2012 first-round series against the Senators and had also been quiet in these playoffs, put his team ahead at 10:39 off assists from Mika Zibanejad and Ryan McDonagh.
Kreider shouted in delight as he celebrated his breakthrough moment along the boards. When he settled on the Rangers’ bench, Zibanejad, a former Senator, hugged him and planted a kiss on Kreider’s white helmet.
Kreider’s goal seemed to give the Rangers a spark. With Rangers defenseman Brendan Smith in the penalty box for slashing, Derek Stepan scored the team’s second short-handed goal of the afternoon at 13:10.
The Rangers’ 3-1 lead lasted only 50 seconds, with Methot knocking a rebound past Lundqvist. But Brady Skjei restored the Rangers’ two-goal margin at 15:51 as the Rangers seemed to answer every attempt by the Senators to get back into the game.
The Rangers’ resilience extended even into the fraught final period. After Ottawa’s Mark Stone scored at 1:28 of the third period to make it a one-goal game, Skjei scored again — his fourth goal of the playoffs — to make it 5-3 for the Rangers at 5:10.
The lead appeared safe. But Pageau’s heroics showed that such confidence is folly.
And so it was that Senators Coach Guy Boucher spoke with caution about the series, which now shifts to the Rangers’ home ice after two narrow wins for his team.
“Today was one game,” he said. “The next game starts back at zero. They are home. And they are going to be desperate, totally desperate.”
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