By Mike Miccoli
The Boston Bruins are developing a good bad habit. The past three playoff wins for Boston have come in overtime, most recently a 3-2 win in Game 1 over the New York Rangers. They’re learning how to win games when they matter most, even if extra hockey is required. With a next goal wins mentality, the Bruins are showing that they can play their best hockey when their backs are against the wall. Closing out a game with a win in 60 minutes hasn’t happened since Game 3 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, but there’s no denying the momentum that’s on the Bruins side right now.
On Thursday night, fans were treated to 60+ minutes of hockey between two teams days removed from a grueling seven-game series in the first round of the 2013 NHL postseason. For the first 40 minutes of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, it was pretty obvious that both the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers were feeling the effects of their Game 7s played on Monday night. It was sloppy hockey from two tired teams in a game that seemed to be headed for irrelevancy, surely not to be remembered in playoff folklore for it’s thrilling moments and edge-of-your seat exciting.
Things changed in the third period, but hey, that’s nothing new–especially for the Bruins.
Credit the Rangers for coming out on fire to start the third period. It only took 14 seconds for Derek Stepan to break the tie and put the Rangers on top 2-1 early in the third period. Capitalizing on the same momentum they used to close out the second period, when Ryan McDonagh ripped a snap shot from the point past Tuukka Rask to put New York on the score sheet with less than two seconds remaining, the Rangers kept pushing.
The Bruins pushed back.
It started with a power play goal from Torey Krug, the recent Providence call-up to the injury-depleted Boston blue line, that tied the game for the Bruins. Krug fired a shot from the point after a heads-up hockey pass from counterpart Dougie Hamilton sailed across the top of the offensive zone.
“I’ve said before that my main goal is to come in here and try to help the team win,” said Krug after the game. “I was fortunate enough to do that.”
In overtime, it was all Bruins. At one point after the Bruins’ power play in extra time, it became evident that the Bruins were going to pull through and win the game. Maybe it had to do with the 16-5 shot advantage the Bruins had, or the immense amount of pressure they were putting on Henrik Lundqvist. Eventually, you just knew that the Bruins would break open the game for the win.
It made perfect sense that the cast of characters responsible for the game-winning goal were the most important Bruins’ on the ice during Game 1. Zdeno Chara, after notching the first goal of the game and already logging an insane 38 minutes of ice-time, poked an errant pass away from Derick Brassard in the Bruins zone, leading to a two-on-one where Patrice Bergeron fed a perfect pass onto the stick of Brad Marchand for the goal.
It was poetic that the hero from Game 7 passed the clutch crown to Marchand, who had already played his best game of the postseason, to become the hero in Game 1.
“It’s kind of a blur,” said Marchand after the game. “From the second it goes in to see everybody jump on the ice and surround you, it’s a bit of a blur. Obviously, a huge adrenaline rush and very exciting.”
The Bruins know how to play when it matters most and have shown that they can deliver positive results when tested. While consistency always remain a question, it’s easy to understand that this team is playing with as much heart and determination as they have all season.
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Mike Miccoli covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers and has been a credentialed member of the media for all Bruins’ home games for the past five years. As a former player, coach and official, Miccoli has been around the game of hockey since the age of three. Along with his work on THW, Miccoli has also been published in the New England Hockey Journal, Improper Bostonian magazine and on BostInno.