In a game filled with odd-man rushes from the first whistle to the last, a soft goal sneaking under Henrik Lundqvist's arm somehow accounted for the game-winning margin in the Bruins' 3-2 victory over the Rangers Wednesday night at the Garden.
Striking a Match
Bruins bench boss Claude Julien rolled his top D pairing of Zdeno Chara and Andrew Ference against the Callahan-Anisimov-Dubinsky line. That trio acquitted themselves okay in the first 20, but more importantly it opened up some great chances for the Gaborik-Christensen-Frolov line. Not that they had anything to show for it through two periods (see below).
Julien switched it up to start the third, putting Chara's pair against Marian Gaborik and his mates.
He Shoots, He … Wait, Nevermind
While Gaborik and his linemates may have had the three best scoring chances of the first period, none of them converted. In fact, none of them even managed a shot on goal despite set-ups that could have been served on platinum platters.
An early 2-on-1 for Gaborik and Erik Christensen was spoiled when Christensen deferred on the shot and dished to a teammate that didn’t exist.
Gaborik later picked off a clearing attempt along the boards at the blue line, sliding it to Christensen. Dipping behind the net, Christensen set up Alexander Frolov right at the top of the crease but the puck slid by him without a shot.
Finally, another 2-on-1 with eight minutes left in the first went to waste when Frolov shuffled a prime one-timer pass near the right faceoff dot to Gaborik, who promptly fanned on the shot attempt.
I Fought the Law ...
It must have felt to fans that the Rangers were being punished by the refs through the first period, particularly after not earning a single power play Monday in Pittsburgh.
The Rangers took the first two penalties of the game, and were denied a call late in the first when Gaborik was taken down on the good offensive chance. The check appeared to be hip-to-hip on replay but it was a very close call and could have been called a trip (particularly since the Rangers just endured two minutes without Daniel Girardi for a hook). But the referee’s arm was never raised up and shortly thereafter Gaborik coughed up the puck on the Bruin blue line and took a tripping call trying to break up a breakway. The Garden fans were not pleased.
It’s also worth noting that the first two Rangers penalties were taken to prevent odd-man chances for the B’s. The third -- too many men -- didn’t exactly reflect well on the Rangers either.
The Rangers were superb in killing the game’s first penalty, seemingly pinning the B’s behind their own goal line for a solid 20 seconds thanks to a great forecheck by Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky.
Playing with Fire
The Rangers appeared to be on the brink of giving up goal No. 1, yielding three odd-man rushes in the late first and early second, including a great shorthanded chance for the B’s during the Blueshirts’ four-minute PP. But it was the Rangers’ red-hot rising star that struck first.
Callahan’s heads-up tap off the boards sprung Dubinsky who sent a wrister through Tim Thomas at 7:10 of the second.
The Rangers essentially spent the second period giving up odd-man rushes to the Bruins. Milan Lucic scored B’s first goal after Patrice Bergeron beat Girardi down the length of the ice to a loose puck in the corner. A quick pass to Nathan Horton and on to Lucic, all alone in front, was all it took to finally make the Rangers pay.
Marc Staal had pinched on the play to throw a check just inside the blueline, leaving Girardi alone to chase the puck from the opposite side of the ice. Girardi lost the race and it cost them a goal.
And after Rangers rookie Derek Stepan was stoned in front of crease 5:54 left in second (his second great chance of the game), the Bruins’ Toronto trade bounty, Tyler Seguin, whistled a wrister past Lundqvist’s ear off the rush for the B’s second goal of the night. Seguin’s wrister was rocket powered and he snapped it off with a Rattlesnake-like release. Not much Lundqvist could do but wave.
He probably could have stopped the next one though ...
That Went In?
The Bruins took a two-goal lead less than two minutes into the third when a Mark Recchi shot snuck under the arm of Lundqvist and trickled over the goal line, clearing it by maybe three inches. It was a tough break for the Rangers to absorb, and one that Lundqvist felt absolutely awful about after the game.
This Could Be The Start of Something ...
The Bruins also featured their share of flat-footed D-men giving up odd-man rushes and the Rangers (finally) cashed in when Stepan (rotated to the top line in the third) snared the puck at the blue line and raced in on a two-on-one (man, I wish I had a hot-key for that phrase) with Gaborik, who took the feed and finished on his forehand around a helpless Thomas at 5:36 in the third.
Gaborik almost struck again about two minutes later on a redirection, but Thomas just squeezed his leg pads together in time.
The Rangers had several quality changes to knot the score late, including a 5-on-3 power play for 1:46 with six minutes left after Sean Avery drew a high-sticking penalty and Chara sent a clearance attempt straight over the glass. But a scrambling save by Thomas on Callahan snuffed out the best chance on the PP and the B's hung on after Lundqvist headed off for the extra attacker.