Whenever the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers meet, fans can expect to be treated to a great hockey game. On Thursday evening, fans gathered at the TD Garden and were not disappointed as the clubs played another terrific contest.
Through the first 40 minutes of action, it was the Bruins versus Henrik Lundqvist, with Lundqvist getting the better of the home team. It appeared as though neither team was going to be able to score; then everything changed in the third period.
Entering this contest, the Rangers had scored 84 third period goals. That mark is the best n the NHL, and the Bruins quickly figured out how deadly they can be in crunch time.
Lundqvist was the story of the first period as he came up with big saves in the first half of the frame. The play of Lundqvist kept the Rangers from digging themselves into an early hole.
The first critical stop from the visiting goaltender occurred just a few minutes into the game when David Pastrnak got behind the Rangers’ defense deep in their zone and attempted to beat Lundqvist to the back post. Lundqvist was able to get his right pad down to make an incredible stop on the gifted goal scorer.
Lundqvist had to come up big again just a few minutes later when Zdeno Chara walked in from the point and tried to pick a corner. Colin Miller then snuck into the slot as Jimmy Hayes fed him a one-handed pass. Miller looked to beat Lundqvist to the glove side, but the veteran goaltender knocked the puck out of play.
The Rangers did not record their first shot on goal until over 11 minutes had ticked off the scoreboard and showed no signs of energy until a successful penalty kill. With the Bruins surging, Brendan Smith took a hooking penalty, giving the home team a great chance to get on the board. However, the Rangers did not give the Bruins any scoring chances and killed off the penalty perfectly.
After the kill, the Rangers started producing more offensive rushes and were not getting stuck in their defensive zone as often. Despite the late effort, the Rangers were outshot 9-3 in the period.
The start of the second period saw both clubs struggle to produce quality offense. Both clubs played very efficient defense in the neutral zone, making it difficult for either team to get clean zone entries and puck possession.
Around halfway through the frame, the Rangers started to crack the Bruins’ strategy and were able to put a lot of pressure on the Bruins’ defense. The pressure applied by the visitors did not phase the Bruins too much, as they were able to hold the Rangers to the outside and prevent any dangerous shots from getting to Tuukka Rask.
A late burst from the Bruins eventually led to two excellent opportunities, but two more great saves from Lundqvist. The first save came after David Krejci found Peter Cehlarik in front of the Rangers’ net for a point-blank shot Lundqvist smothered. In the final two minutes, Lundqvist also stopped a wrist shot from Patrice Bergeron that looked labeled for the top corner of the net.
At the buzzer, the game was still tied at zero.
The Rangers broke the scoring drought just over five minutes into the final frame when Pavel Buchnevich blasted a slap shot past the glove of Rask. Buchnevich’s goal was his seventh of the year and got the Rangers moving in the right direction.
Just before the 10-minute mark of the period, the visitors struck again on a beautiful goal from Oscar Lindberg. Lindberg flew into the Bruins’ zone, dangled past rookie blueliner Brandon Carlo and beat Rask with a wrist shot to the glove side. The goal was Lindberg’s fifth of the season and made the TD Garden rather quiet.
Facing a two-goal deficit, the Bruins started to turn the heat on and were able to sneak a puck past Lundqvist for the first time in the game. The goal occurred with 7:04 left in the frame. Pastrnak danced past a defender, tripped after the move and flung a one-handed shot towards Lundqvist that was eventually poked in by Brad Marchand.
With the Bruins within striking distance, the Garden came back to life.
With 3:26 left in the period, there was a scramble in front of Lundqvist, and Pastrnak found himself with a wide-open net until Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh made an incredible block to preserve the lead for the visitors.
With 2:22 left on the clock, David Backes made contact with Lundqvist, sending Backes to the box for two minutes. During the power play, the Rangers played keep away with the Bruins as time chewed off of the clock. In the final 20 seconds, the Bruins attempted to get shots through to Lundqvist but did not succeed, and the Rangers hung on for the 2-1 victory.
NYR – Pavel Buchnevich (7) assisted by Nick Holden (20) and Rick Nash (14)
NYR – Oscar Lindberg (5) assisted by Matt Puempel (2) and Brady Skjei (28)
BOS – Brad Marchand (29) assisted by David Pastrnak (27) and Colin Miller (6)
THW THREE STARS
First: Henrik Lundqvist (33 saves on 34 shots)
Second: Oscar Lindberg (GWG)
Third: David Pastrnak (1 assist)
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Anthony Pagliarulo is a Boston Bruins contributor for The Hockey Writers. He is a Massachusetts native and a Worcester State University alumni. You can follow Anthony on Twitter @APags87.