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RECAP: Bruins lose to Rangers, 2-1

It came down to the third period, and Henrik Lundqvist stole much of this game for the Rangers.

NHL: New York Rangers at Boston Bruins
Lundqvist extending up into Backes, who tried to avoid contact.
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

What was a great game through 45 minutes turned sour quickly in the third period, and the Bruins couldn’t recover. A late penalty sealed the Bruins’ fate.

First Period

This one started with a full minute of zone time for the Bruins. A strong forecheck by Krejci’s Kids pinned the puck deep, and things looked to be off on the right foot.

David Pastrnak nearly reached past Henrik Lundqvist’s outstretched pad a few minutes in, but Henrik made the save; Pasta then knocked the puck loose from his stomach and kept the puck alive behind the net for a bit longer before the Rangers recovered and broke out of their zone.

On just his second shift, the Rangers really started to dig into Pastrnak, tangling and knocking him down whenever the puck was within a 15-foot radius. The attention he drew from all five Rangers skaters gave his linemates a bit more space, and the distraction carried over to the Vatrano/Spooner/Hayes line. New York knew Vatrano in the circle would be dangerous, and a width-wise pass to Chara from the scrum at the boards gave Big Zee the freedom to walk in from the point unmolested and unleash a snapshot, but the save was made by Henrik. A sweep-shot on the rebound by Jimmy Hayes just slipped by Frank Vatrano in the crease, and another chance to score fizzled. Colin Miller similarly got a loose puck in the high slot but hit the crossbar and deflected out of play.

About halfway through the period, Pasta gets hooked by new Ranger Brendan Smith, and the B’s headed to the power play. The advantage started with a Rangers dump-in; Brad Marchand carried the puck back and the B’s had two solid but distant shots from Pastrnak that went wide. PP ends as Vatrano puts a shot into the logo on Henrik’s chest.

The Rangers finally get their first shot on goal with just under 9 minutes to go, then get hasty and ice the puck. The Bruins are allowing a bit more space in the neutral zone, but are able to effectively shut down the Rangers in the defensive zone and get the puck behind Lundqvist with numbers to keep it there. Large Jim drops his stick blocking a shot but still buries Skjei into the boards, and there was much rejoicing.

Down low in the defensive zone, the Bruins did a great job of limiting shots to the outside, even on some slick passing/cycling by the Rangers. In their efforts to make quick passes through the neutral zone the Rangers would ice the puck twice more; the period ended inconsequentially, and though the Bruins have been getting the better chances, Lundqvist has neutralized the Bruins’ scoring attempts thus far.

Second Period

The beginning of the second was opposite of the first, as the Rangers set up for the first minute in Tuukka’s end. Rick Nash gets a 1-on-1 against an out-of-position defenseman and let loose a high slapshot, and just missing the high blocker corner on Tuukka. Rangers defenseman Nick Holden turned the puck over right in front of Henrik and B’s nearly make him pay, but once again, Lundqvist stones a shot in close. More 0-0 hockey.

The middle of the frame brought a penalty to Frank Vatrano, which is killed off; breakouts by both teams turned into some nearly-productive possession time, and a puck or two trickling dangerously close to a goal behind Tuukka. The shots - from both teams - were coming from more and more dangerous scoring areas.

Chara has played exceptionally well in this period so far, with two nearly-successful stretch passes to Vatrano coming out of the box and to Pasta on the left wing boards, but both juuuust missed. In the defensive crease, he single-handedly neutralized four or five cross-slot passes.

Fear set in with around 7 minutes to go in the period, with Bergeron leaving for the locker room after blocking a shot with his lower arm, and Spooner took one or two of his shifts with Marchand and Backes. Cassidy also tried a new defensive setup, with Krug/Chiller and Killer/McQuaid to see if he could get a jump out of his offensive defensemen, but to no avail.

Cehlarik and Pastrnak both get great chances, and a long shot by Carlo produces a rebound, though the followup gets blocked in the low slot. The Bruins started to get a little more creative in front of Lundqvist, but once again he demonstrates why he’s in the upper echelon of NHL goalies by robbing Cehlarik on the doorstep, Bergeron on a mid-slot high to the glove side, and generally keeping the Rangers in the game. With just under a minute to play, Pastrnak made a through-the-legs-kick-to-stick deke look easy, and Marc Staal got mad because he can’t do that, so he trips Pasta.

The second ended with no goals, and 1:05 of power-play time carried over to the third.

Third Period

The Bruins nearly had the first goal of the game on the remaining PP, and Spooner made a perfect cross-slot pass but Pasta shot it just wide. The rest of the power play disappeared with little opportunity.

The B’s 4th line got a good pressure shift, Cassidy put the third line out while the puck was deep, and on a neutral zone pick and re-entry, Vatrano put a rising shot at Henrik’s neck. Possession ensues, and a point shot nearly gets tipped in front. Things were trending well.

A string of shots by the Bruins over the first five minutes of the period made it seem that they’d break through at any moment. Unfortunately, the Rangers would draw first - Pavel Buchnevich, the call-up from earlier in the day, takes a short feed from defenseman Nick Holden and blasts a shot short-side on Rask. 1-0, Rangers.

Three minutes later, the Bruins iced the puck twice in less than ten seconds, and the resulting Rangers zone time allowed this to happen. 2-0, Rangers. Lindberg made a slick move under, around and through Brandon Carlo and put the puck far side top-shelf on Tuukka.

Colin Miller took a high-sticking penalty right around the midway point of the period, so that burned two more minutes of comeback time. Coach Cassidy needed to make a few desperate moves, FAST, and shuffled his lines to put all his offensive chips onto two-and-a-half forward sets.

Pastrnak returned to Marcheron’s right wing, and nearly immediately, it yields a penalty AND a goal (which negated the penalty) to bring the Bruins within one. Pasta made a great cut into the high slot, was hauled down, and manages to chip the remnants towards Henrik where Marchand finished the job. 2-1, Rangers. Seven minutes to play.

Spooner’s new-look wingers hit everything in sight, with Backes and Beleskey registering three hits in thirty seconds. Minutes chipped away, however, with the Rangers holding the Bruins to the outside again. With just over two minutes to play, Backes attempts to take the game into his own hands by firing a strong wrist shot and chipping the backhand on net, and then...

We will have time to dissect this. Half of you/our followers on Twitter were still mad about it last night. It’s a tough call - Henrik puts his hand up to protect himself because he knows Backes is coming, and Backes tries to get around him. If he hadn’t put his hand up, Backes might’ve clipped his mask with his hip instead of catching him in the extended arm. A lot easier to parse in slow motion, that’s for sure.

This would effectively end the game. With just twenty seconds left on the clock, there was little chance to tie this game. A last-second offensive faceoff win yielded a whiff by Krug, but he has been missing the net as of late, so who knows if that would’ve worked. 2-1, Final after regulation, Rangers win.

Game Notes

  • This tweet from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe says a lot about Saturday’s lineup:
  • Toronto lost in overtime to Los Angeles, so while they picked up a point, they’re still two back from the B’s with a game in hand. Florida is one point behind Toronto, challenging for that final Wild Card slot.
  • Speaking of standings points, it’s tough to swallow this loss - the Bruins controlled much of the early game and had nothing to show for it. Lundqvist is still a human and there are ways to get the puck behind him.
  • Also, congrats to Henrik Lundqvist on tying Grant Fuhr for 10th on the NHL all-time wins list. Losses sting, but credit is due to one of the greats.
  • Saturday brings the New Jersey Devils to town. While they’re well below the Bruins and Wild Card slots in the standings, Cory Schneider was able to hold the Capitals to just one goal tonight. We don’t know if he’ll start, but if he does, there will be more strong goaltending to overcome. The Bruins need to get to whomever starts for the Devils early, immediately, and frequently.