B’s leave door open for Rangers to make this a series
Thursday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Rangers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at Madison Square Garden was yet another chapter in the Bruins’ book of struggles to eliminate opponents. BC product Chris Kreider tipped in a perfect pass from Rick Nash at 7:03 in the extra session, forcing Game 5 Saturday night (5:30 p.m., NBCSN) at TD Garden. Boston missed out on a chance to get a sweep and earn some extra rest before the Eastern Conference Finals but most importantly, they gave a team that was truly dead a jolt of life for at least two more days. The Bruins fell to 1-3 in closeout games this postseason, 7-13 with Claude Julien in charge and perhaps most worrisome, 2-8 with Tuukka Rask in goal.
Boston was up 2-0 in the second period thanks to a pair of power-play goals by Nathan Horton and Torey Krug (third goal in four games, incredible) before they gave up two fluky goals to New York. Rask (28 saves) flat-out fell down on a dump in, giving Carl Hagelin the gift of his career, then early in the third Zdeno Chara was stripped behind the net so Derek Stepan was able to wrap around the goal and jam it in while Rask couldn’t react in time. The rest of the frame was equally unpredictable as Tyler Seguin scored his first goal of the playoffs on a rebound after Henrik Lundqvist (37 saves) initially robbed him. Naturally, New York tied it with a power-play goal, yes a power=play goal, by former BC star Brian Boyle. That snapped a 2-for-40 skid in the postseason for the Rangers power play and broke an 0-for-12 stretch vs. Boston.
Adding to the misery, the B’s had numerous wonderful opportunities to end it in overtime before Kreider finished the job. Brad Marchand, Jaromir Jagr and David Krejci, among others, could have ended the Rangers’ season but they didn’t. Rookie defenseman Dougie Hamilton was in position to stop Kreider but he wasn’t strong enough to get his stick out of the way. Don’t be shocked if Dennis Seidenberg or even Wade Redden return in Game 5 for the Bruins and Hamilton is a healthy scratch. New York sat Brad Richards – their highest paid player – in Game 4 and it seemed to work. Its new fourth line brought much more energy.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter @RichSlate