NEW YORK -- It started moments before the U.S. anthem, with 18,000 New Yorkers breaking into song.
Midway through the first period, the lyrics changed.
This time, the chant was "Booooo-dreau, Booo-dreau!"
Then, by the end of the second intermission, the ears-splitting cry was: "Can you hear us?"
Indeed, on a loud, wild Wednesday night here in Gotham, this first-round playoff game between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden quickly turned into a Broadway musical on ice, all aimed at the new public enemy No. 1 in New York, Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau.
"What a great atmosphere," Capitals forward Jason Chimera chuckled afterward. "The people here are so passionate. We were laughing on the bench listening to all that stuff."
In the end, Chimera and Boudreau would have the last laugh.
Thanks to Chimera's goal at 12:36 of the second overtime period, the Capitals completed a four-goal comeback en route to a thrilling 4-3 victory, shutting up an entire city in the process.
Boudreau, of course, riled up the Big Apple by stating Monday that Madison Square Garden's reputation was better than the actual building, adding that Washington's Verizon Center was louder than the self-proclaimed World's Most Famous Arena.
Upon further review, as he sat at the post-game podium looking as exhausted as his players, Boudreau admitted he might have goofed by making those statements.
"Look, it may have been a mistake to say what I did," Boudreau said. "Let's just let the players on the ice decide it, okay?"
In the end, that's exactly what happened, thanks to Chimera.
The Rangers had built up a 3-0 lead in the second period on goals by Artem Anisimov, Marian Gaborik and Brandon Dubinsky, only to blow it in the third. Rookie Marcus Johansson led the way with a pair of goals, with Alex Semin chipping in with one, as well.
Chimera then provided the heroics when Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was poised to pounce on a loose puck only to have Gaborik poke it away. The puck bounced off Chimera, who quickly scooped it into the open net.
"It's up there as one of the most important moments of your life next to getting married and having kids," Chimera said of his overtime winner. "It's tough to describe. We just never gave up."
Or, in the words of Boudreau: "They believed. They always believed."
The victory allowed the Caps to take a 3-1 lead in this best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal, heading into Game 5 on Saturday afternoon in Washington.
A win will allow the Caps to advance to the second round, but Boudreau warns that it won't be easy.
"It's not like I need to tell these guys they need a killer instinct," Boudreau said. "They've been playing their tails off. That's a good team over there. We've won two games in overtime. It's not like they have another gear. They've been giving it everything they have."
The Capitals were playing without gritty forward Mike Knuble, who was replaced by Eric Fehr. While Boudreau would not reveal what was wrong with Knuble, the suspicion is that it may have occurred in the third period of Game 3 when he was nailed in the hand by a Mike Green shot.
But Chimera and Johansson picked up the offensive slack, setting the stage for Washington to close out the series.
"I'm a little tired, but it's so great to get the win," Johansson said. "It felt so good.
"I don't think anyone expected us to come back from being down by three goals at the start of the third."