For the first time in the playoffs, Rangers coach John Tortorella decided to split up his top defensive pair of Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh in deference to his opposition’s depth.

In last night’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Bruins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at TD Garden, Tortorella paired Girardi with Michael Del Zotto and McDonagh with Anton Stralman, while the third pair remained John Moore and Steve Eminger.

This is a strategy that Tortorella often employed down the stretch of the regular season when facing teams with more than just one dominant line. Most thought the Girardi-McDonagh combo would match up against the David Krejci-Milan Lucic-Nathan Horton line, just as they did against Alex Ovechkin’s line in their seven-game first-round series win over the Capitals.

“You have to try and contain them, but they have great depth throughout their lineup,” McDonagh said about the Bruins on Wednesday. “So you don’t have focus on one group.”

Although not hopping over the boards together, Girardi (32:05) and McDonagh (31:59) still led the team in total ice time.