NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 14: Chris Neil #25 of the Ottawa Senators and Brian Boyle #22 of the New York Rangers fight during the first period in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 14, 2012 in New York City. The Senators defeated the Rangers 3-2 in overtime.(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Welcome to NHL playoff hockey: The Senators dressed their thugs, jumped the Rangers in the opening minutes -- and got away with it, getting Brandon Dubinsky ejected and winning Game 2 in overtime.
One thing all hockey fans know about the NHL playoffs: They aren't always fair.
The Ottawa Senators came out for vengeance in Game 2 against the New York Rangers, inserting enforcers Matt Carkner and Zenon Konopka into the lineup to answer Brian Boyle's rabbit-punches to young star Erik Karlsson's face in Game 1.
Carkner took his marching orders to the extreme, jumping Boyle in the opening minutes and unleashing punches while Boyle refused to fight back. With officials not jumping in to protect the Ranger from the assault, his teammate Brandon Dubinsky did.
But the NHL rulebook -- the way it's interpreted on odd days of the week, anyway -- frowns on such defense. The result after penalties were sorted out: The Senators lost Carkner, their worst defenseman, for the game. The Rangers lost Dubinsky, an actually valuable forward, to a game misconduct as well.
Hardly a fair trade-off, but that's how NHL hockey works sometimes. Boyle was even called to fight one more time in the first period, with regular Senators fighter Chris Neil drawing him into matching fighting majors.
To be fair, the Rangers received -- and squandered -- an early five-minute power play thanks to Carkner's major penalty, a golden opportunity to break open Game 2 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal. And though Karlsson scored to tie the game at 1-1 in the second period, Boyle scored the go-ahead goal early in the third -- the perfect way to send the Senators the message that they hadn't gotten to him.
Instead, the hockey gods offered up another of their reminders that this sport isn't fair: After the Senators tied the game with 4:37 left in regulation, the Senators won it early in overtime.
The game-winning goal-scorer? Chris Neil, of course; just his eighth goal in 76 career NHL playoff games.