Bruins making it look easy, take 3-0 series lead over NY
For two periods, Henrik Lundqvist (32 saves) stood on his head and it looked like the Rangers might win 1-0 to climb back in the Eastern Conference semifinals. However, Boston found a way to beat him twice in the third period as Johnny Boychuk and Daniel Paille each found the net and the Bruins edged the Rangers, 2-1, Tuesday in Game 3 at Madison Square Garden. The B’s have a chance to close it out and reach the Eastern Conference Finals Thursday (7 p.m., CNBC) back at MSG.
Tuukka Rask (23 saves) wasn’t nearly as busy as Lundqvist but he did make a key stop late in regulation on Rick Nash to preserved the Boston victory.
Offensively, Boston had four great chances in the first period as Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin (who both haven’t scored in postseason) were stopped on breakaways. Jaromir Jagr and Patrice Bergeron also had close range shots stuffed by Lundqvist. New York scored its lone goal totally against the run of play at 3:53 in the second as Taylor Pyatt tipped in Ryan McDonagh’s shot from the point. Bergeron had a chance to clear the puck but his turnover led to the goal. Still, the B’s outshot the Rangers 14-5 in the frame including Nathan Horton’s shot off the post.
Torey Krug continued to make things happen for the B’s and it felt like, at some point, that Boston would break through.
Boychuk tied it at 3:10 in the third with his fourth goal of the postseason (second in as many games). Paille and Shawn Thornton assisted on Boychuk’s wrister which was screened by the latter. Shortly after that, Boychuk hit the post (like in Game 1) so the Bruins continued to buzz the Rangers. Boston’s fourth line was credited with the game-winner as Paille banged in a loose puck with 3:31 left in regulation after a crazy bounce went behind Lundqvist but not in the net. Thornton and Gregory Campbell had the assists on Paille’s second goal of the playoffs.
Boston has won its last four games after the unforgettable comeback in Game 7 of the quarterfinals against the Maple Leafs.
What they’ll be saying: We should all be happy that the Bruins won if only for the fact that we don’t have to examine all the shady non-calls and unexplainable power play discrepancy for the Rangers. NY was 0-for-2 on the power play (0-for-10 in this series, 2-for-38 in postseason) while Boston didn’t have any and New York received the last 11 calls in their own building (eight periods) going back to the first round vs. Washington. The referees didn’t cover themselves in glory, missing penalties on both sides including what should have been a four-minute major for the Bruins after Zdeno Chara got a high stick in the face in the first period (drawing blood) from Ryan Callahan.
This looked like an ECW wrestling match with Patrice Bergeron and Carl Hagelin, among others, also dripping blood at one point or another. One of the more underrated parts of Boston’s success so far has been the scoring from its defensemen: they’ve scored an NHL-best 11 goals led by Boychuk (four goals), who has the most of any defensemen.
Plenty of people get annoyed when Bruins head coach Claude Julien rolls four lines so much during the regular season, but tonight’s victory was a perfect example of their immense value. They were on the ice for both goals with Paille (one goal, one assist) and Thornton (two assists) getting multiple points. Rangers head coach John Tortorella seemed like a defeated man in his postgame press conference, lacking his usual piss and vinegar. He appears to be a guy that has lost his team, and barring a miraculous comeback by New York, his job is probably on the line too. The Rangers have scored five goals in three games, the same amount that the Bruins had in Game 2, so it’s not hard to figure out why they’re down 3-0 in the series.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter @RichSlate