Tonight was the third and final match up between the Boston Bruins(8-1-1)and the New York Rangers(6-5-0). The teams had split the last two games and both teams were hungry for bragging rights. Eighteen of the last twenty games between these two teams have been decided by a single goal. Chris Kelly summed it up just before the opening puck drop. “[The Rangers] Big D, tough D, it’s going to be a tough game, and we just got to work them.”
Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien addressed the Bruins problem with such a low scoring season. The Bruins have pulled their best ten game start in their team’s history (8-1-1) in spite of having only scored twenty nine goals. “It’s about patience.” offered Julien. “We aren’t the first team and we won’t be the last.” The Bruins have been playing their traditional defensive-minded, high contact game. Julien knew that this was going to be a tough fight.
The crease police were put on their toes early in the match. Within the first thirty five seconds of the first period, both goaltenders had faced shots on goal.The Rangers had Lundqvist in the crease tonight. Last year’s Vezina trophy winner has had twenty nine starts against the Bruins, and he has never given up more than three goals. The Bruins put Tuukka Rask(6-1-1) back in the goal. Tuukka is in the top ten for goalies with a 1.96 goals against, and is competitive with a .922 save percentage.
The Bruins went on the power play early, when Rangers’ Darroll Powe sent a puck in to the netting, but then lost it when Tyler Seguin got called for hooking forty seconds later. Both teams have been weak on the power play. The Bruins are only four for thirty nine on the power play (10.2%). The Rangers played out their power play, and both teams ended up empty on their first attempt. The Rangers went up 1-0 on a brilliant kneeling play by Rick Nash. He was able to make the play and pass it to Carl Hagelin. Hagelin was able to get into an empty net, as Rask wasn’t anticipating the level of skill Nash had.
Rich Peverley was on the penalty kill for an Adam McQuaid roughing penalty. McQuaid attempted to motivate the team and the fans by trying to get Chris Kreider to drop and pop. Rich Peverley showed off his skill by taking on the majority of New York for two minutes and showed why the Bruins are thirty nine for forty two on the penalty kill(92.8%). The rest of the first period proved what both teams had said. It was a high intensity low scoring game.
The second period was more of the first. High intensity, but mistakes were made by both sides. The Rangers racked up their sixth two many men on the ice penalty of the season. The Bruins appeared to be gaining momentum. The Bruins tried to push, but a simple mistake by Hamilton led to Stepan getting one past Rask to make it a 2-0 game. The Bruins pulled another power play on an interference penalty on Staal, but they couldn’t make it happen. (The Bruins have come up empty on all power plays at home.) Shawn Thornton attempted to rally the team in his traditional style, but the Rangers avoided the ‘conversation’.
Frustration played its part as well. Late in the second, Milan Lucic got called for a hi-stick. Patrice Bergeron attempted to score on a short handed attempt, but Lundqvist was ready for him. Then Brad Marchand got a ‘reputation penalty’ for a so called cross-check. When the Bruins made a mistake, they usually paid for it in this game. The Bruins were forced to go into the third period staring down a 5 on 3.
The Bruins are usually marvels on the third period. The Bruins fought off the 5-on-3 for sixty seconds, and then fought the 5 on 4. But the Rangers’ Anton Stralman got a good angle on Rask and slipped one through for a 3-0 Rangers lead. The Bruins however, are one of the best third period teams in hockey! David Krejci gets a shot in from a Milan Lucic rebound on a Seidenberg shot(8:44) . Now it’s a 3-1 game.Momentum was swinging towards the B’s. The team was forcing the Rangers back and was making a case to get back into the game. Down two goals they pulled Rask. Nathan Horton proves he’s our clutch master with a shot with ninety one seconds left. It’s 3-2! Rask gets pulled right after the face off, and the B’s apply the pressure. Brad Marchand keeps himself atop the Bruins score list with his seventh of the season with forty two seconds left to go. It’s tied! The Bruins pull another miracle out of their hat, and we’re going to overtime!
The Bruins kept on the Rangers, and they made overtime a rough five minutes for them. In the last few seconds, they countered. Two great saves by Rask brought us to a shootout. The Bruins were 2-0 in shootouts at home, and we’re trying to remain undefeated. Tyler Seguin (55%) was up first, but he was denied. Gaborik (23%) was up for the Rangers, but he was stuffed by Rask. Patrice Bergeron(31%)was blocked as well. Rick Nash got a back to forehand to beat Tuukka. Brad Marchand (100%) needed to make it happen, and he did! Brad Richards tried to win it, but Tuukka said No! David Krejci (34%) couldn’t get a clean shot, and Ryan Callahan (13%) snuck it past by Rask to get the 4-3 win. The Bruins went to 8-1-2, and the Rangers win streak increased to three. The Bruins salvaged a point out of one of their worst regulation showings this season.
Tuukka Rask just had a bad game. I think we can forgive him after he saved the rest of the Bruins in the last Buffalo game. He’s still an amazing tender, and we’re still the best team in the division.