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Bruins Blow 3 Goal Lead, Lose to Rangers

The Bruins fell 5-3 to the New York Rangers last night at Madison Square Garden, after jumping out to a 3-0 lead.

It felt initially like a game where the Bruins might come out flat, having little to play for, where the Rangers had everything on the line.  However, the Bruins dominated the opening frame, with a 19-5 edge on shots.  Daniel Paille opened the scoring at 15:16 of the first.  After Brandon Prust missed what looked like a sure goal, Michael Ryder cleared the zone and hit Paille on a long pass.  Paille's initial shot was stopped by Henrik Lundqvist, but the fourth line kept plugging, and moments later, it was 1-0. 

At 16:53, Nathan Horton made it 2-0, on a very similar play; Ruslan Fedotenko missed a wide open net, the Bruins broke out, with Milan Lucic taking a hit to move the puck to David Krejci.  Krejci's initial shot was stopped, but Horton scored on the rebound.

In the second period, Chris Kelly scored his first as a Bruin, after Tomas Kaberle sprung a 2 on 1.  Kelly wristed it by Lundqvist and the Bruins looked well on their way to victory.

The Bruins dominated the first 30 minutes of play, but the last 30 were all Rangers.  Just 1:02 after Kelly scored, Vaclav Prospal narrowed it to 3-1 with his 7th of the season.  The Bruins had trouble clearing the zone, and Woltek Wojski took a shot that dribbled through Tim Thomas' five-hole, and Prospal put it away.  At 18:36, Prospal did it again, burying a feed from Wojski, to make it 3-2.

The Bruins clung to the 3-2 lead for most of the third, but with 4 minutes to go, the roof caved in.  With the Rangers moving the puck around the offensive zone, Tomas Kaberle wandered away from Brandon Dubinsky into no-man's land, and Dubinsky tied it up.  Less than a minute later, with the Bruins (stop me if you've heard this one before) getting stuck in their own zone, Michael Sauer put it past a laughably out of position Tim Thomas for a 4-3 lead.  At 19:07, Derek Stepan scored an empty netter for the final 5-3 margin.

Game Notes:
  • One concern I've had about this team all season is whether they can overcome a bad night from their goaltending.  Make no mistake, Tim Thomas was awful, allowing 4 goals on 25 shots, and it should have been 5 or 6.  They needed to pick Timmy up, and didn't do it. 
  • The Rangers had too much time in the offensive zone over the last half of the game, and the Bruins did not do a good job of moving the puck.  The Andrew Ference/Adam McQuaid pairing was a prime culprit; the Rangers forechecked them mercilessly, and the Bruins couldn't make them pay for that aggression.
  • The loss all but locks the Bruins into third in the East.  It's hard to imagine them making up 4 points in 3 games.  Conversely, the Rangers win moves them into a tie for sixth, though Montreal has a game in hand.  It may be blasphemy, but Bruins fans might need to hold their nose and hope Montreal wins enough down the stretch to pull sixth.  The Rangers are a much better team than the Habs, and the Sabres and Hurricanes, for that matter. 
  • The Rangers won the season series 3-1.  I reiterate: this is NOT the team the Bruins want to draw in round 1.  I cannot make this point strongly enough.
  • Discipline was an issue; the Bruins took four minor penalties, none particularly necessary.  They killed off all of them, but that was 8 minutes of time when they couldn't attack. 
  • Fun fact: The Rangers shooting percentage was 19.2%.  The Butler Bulldogs shot 18.8%.  Maybe the Bruins should have had Kemba Walker playing goal.
  • The Bruins return home to finish their season series with the Islanders on Wednesday. 
  • Head over to Blueshirt Banter for a somewhat happier group of hockey fans.