The New York Rangers beat the Ottawa Senators 4-2 in the opening game of their National Hockey League first-round playoff series.
The other three games last night went to overtime as the defending champion Boston Bruins defeated the Washington Capitals 1-0, the San Jose Sharks beat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 and the Phoenix Coyotes topped the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2.
Ryan Callahan, Marian Gaborik, Brian Boyle and Brad Richards scored for the Rangers at Madison Square Garden in New York before Daniel Alfredsson and Erik Condra got goals for the Senators, who are playing in the postseason for the first time in three years.
“We stayed within ourselves and found our game,” Rangers coach John Tortorella, who won the Stanley Cup in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Lightning, told reporters. “We found a way.”
The Rangers are the Eastern Conference’s top seed for the first time since 1994, when they last won the Stanley Cup. New York, the second favorite to win the title behind the Pittsburgh Penguins, lost three of its four regular-season games against the Senators.
Forward Chris Kreider, who has a chance to become the first person since 1987 to play in the postseason in the same year that he won a national college championship, wasn’t included in the Rangers lineup.
Five days ago the 20-year-old Kreider won the National Collegiate Athletic Association title with Boston College. The last person to claim that title and then play in the NHL postseason was Tony Hrkac, who won the college championship 25 years ago with the University of North Dakota before playing for the St. Louis Blues in the NHL playoffs, the league said.
The teams return to Madison Square Garden for Game 2 on April 14 before heading to Ottawa for two games.
In other first-round series last night, the Bruins beat the Capitals on Chris Kelly’s goal one minute, 18 seconds into overtime at TD Garden in Boston.
Eight different teams have won the past eight Stanley Cup titles and the last team to successfully defend the championship was the Detroit Red Wings in 1998.
The Sharks needed double overtime to defeat Western Conference No. 2 seed the Blues after taking the lead at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri, on a Martin Havlat power-play goal in the second period.
Patrik Berglund got two goals in the third period for the home team before Andrew Desjardins tied it 5:16 from the end. Havlat got the winner 3:34 into the second overtime to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
At Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Arizona, Jonathan Toews gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead over the Coyotes, who went 2-1 ahead in the second period with goals 10 minutes apart by Taylor Pyatt and Antoine Vermette.
Phoenix stayed ahead until Brent Seabrook forced overtime by scoring for Chicago with 15 seconds to play. Martin Hanzal got the winner for the Coyotes 9:29 into overtime.
There are four first-round games tomorrow. The Penguins host the Philadelphia Flyers, who rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win the opening game in the series 4-3 in overtime.
The Vancouver Canucks, the top seed in the Western Conference, resume their series against the Los Angeles Kings trailing by one game to nil.
The Nashville Predators host the Red Wings seeking to take a 2-0 lead in games, while the Florida Panthers host the New Jersey Devils in their series opener.
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