When Zdeno Chara took a seat in the penalty box for interference late in the third period on Tuesday night in New York, the Bruins were all but dead. Down 2-0 with just over five minutes remaining and shorthanded, the offensively-challenged Bruins faced a seemingly insurmountable task. Two minutes later, the Bruins had netted two goals and looked like a team determined to steal one from the Rangers. The common denominators in the two goals: Matt Hunwick and Blaker Wheeler. Hunwick’s shorthanded goal pulled them to within one, with assists from Wheeler and Krejci. Just over a minute later, it was Wheeler who ripped one past Henrik Lundqvist, with assists credited to Hunwick and Ryder. The game seemed poised for overtime.
Just as fast as the Bruins dug themselves out of the hole, they jumped back into it. Christopher Higgins’ fifth goal of the season put the Rangers on top with a minute and a half to play, a lead that they would not relinquish. For the Bruins, finally scoring on Lundqvist was a step forward. Scoring a second goal shortly after was impressive. Scoring a third goal? Not happening. The Bruins had battled their way back, but it resulted in nothing but a spike in blood pressure for Bruins fans as the B’s left Madison Square Garden pointless, falling 3-2 in regulation.
The Bruins were shutout by the Rangers 1-0 when they met on November 1, so getting on the board after almost six periods of scoreless hockey was an improvement. Also, seeing Wheeler making plays at the end of the game was a welcoming sign. However, when you battle back, tie up the game, and seemingly grab all of the momentum late in the third period, you should expect at least a point. Perhaps it was such complacency upon tying the game that resulted in the Bruins walking away empty-handed. 2-0 or 3-2, it doesn’t matter; a loss is a loss. Wheeler expressed similar sentiments after the game, saying, “These are opportunities that we just can’t waste.”
While the outcome of the game was disappointing, the biggest loss may have actually occured in the second period when Patrice Bergeron left the game after being hit in the hand on a shot by Dennis Wideman. He did not return. There has been no word yet, but Bruins fans hold their collective breath. One of the league’s worst offensive teams, the B’s can ill-afford to lose Bergeron, whose 31 points leads the team.