Rangers Edge Bruins in Shootout Thriller at TD Garden

BOSTON, MA – After Saturday afternoon’s contest against the Tampa Bay Lightning was postponed in the aftermath of the 2013 blizzard for the ages, the Boston Bruins were back on the ice Tuesday to do battle with the New York Rangers for the final time this season. In what was undoubtedly the most exciting finish to a game this season, the Bruins would climb out of a 3-0 third period hole before being defeated by the Rangers, 4-3, in a shootout.

New York would go ahead 1-0 early after prized offseason acquisition Rick Nash dangled around Boston defenseman Andrew Ference and found a wide open Carl Hagelin in front of the net for his fourth goal of the season.

The Rangers would then increase their lead to 2-0 when third-year forward Derek Stepan would take advantage of a neutral zone turnover by the Bruins, walk down into the slot and fire a wrist shot past goaltender Tuukka Rask, into the Boston net.

Just fourteen seconds later, the Bruins would be afforded their third power-play opportunity of the evening when Rangers’ blueliner Marc Staal was sent to the box for interference. Continuing what has been an unfortunate trend during the 2013 season, the Bruins were again unable to convert with the man-advantage. After an 0-for-4 outing on Tuesday, the B’s power-play has now converted on just four of 43 opportunities this season.

Early in the third period, the Boston penalty-kill did a tremendous job in stopping the Rangers throughout an extended 5-on-3 advantage. However, less than a minute after the second Bruins’ penalty had expired, the Rangers would add to their lead. Bottom-pair defenseman Anton Stralman corralled a loose puck in the Boston zone and fired it towards goal from the bottom of the right circle. It would then trickle through the pads of an angry Rask and into the Bruins’ net to make the score 3-0 in favor of New York.

It wasn’t until the 8:44 mark of the game’s final period that the B’s comeback of epic proportions would finally commence. Just one second after the team’s fourth power-play opportunity had come to a close, top-line center David Krejci was able to poke home a rebound for his fourth goal of the season.

“You’ve got to get the first one. Once you get the first one, then they get nervous a little bit. I think that’s what happened. We were all over them, we were getting great chances after the first goal and our shooters did a good job driving the net and then putting the puck in the back of the net.” – David Krejci

With the goalie pulled in favor of an extra attacker, the Bruins would set up shop in the New York zone for most of the game’s final two minutes. As the clock began to work against the Bruins, Nathan Horton was able to cut into the New York lead after finding a loose puck in front and shoveling it past Lundqvist to make the score 3-2. A mere 48 seconds later, enigmatic second-line winger Brad Marchand would send a snapshot into the top-right corner of the net to even the score at three.

“It was a bit lucky. I tried to hit Bergie (Patrice Bergeron), and I think a guy blocked it. It came right back to me and I don’t think (Henrik) Lundqvist saw it, and I just put it in the open net.” – Brad Marchand

The score would remain tied at three throughout the remaining 0:43 seconds of regulation, as well as the entire five-minute overtime period. In the shootout, New York would get the better of Boston on a pair of goals by Rick Nash and Ryan Callahan as the Rangers secured a crucial 4-3 road victory at TD Garden.

“We were down two-nothing, and then you kill that 5-on-3, and after that the next shot goes in and it could be kind of deflating for your team, but we showed great character and bounced back and got to go into overtime and the shootout, but today we just didn’t get the win.” – Tuukka Rask

On a night when they clearly didn’t have their best game, taking a point from the rival Rangers is of monumental importance to the Black and Gold. Despite the loss, Tuesday’s game should provide the Bruins with a huge boost of confidence in knowing that they have the capability to overcome such a deficit, even against one of the NHL’s best defensive teams with the league’s best goaltender.

“…They just believe they can do it. And right now that’s a good sign. I think it certainly saved us from having a regulation loss tonight just with that attitude. And although we weren’t perfect and I didn’t think we were at our best, we still found a way to get a point in a situation where it looked pretty grim at halfway through the third.” – Claude Julien

No matter the outcome, fans in attendance at TD Garden – or, at least those of whom who stayed until the game’s final buzzer –, were treated to an absolutely exhilarating finish that reminds us all why we hold the sport of hockey so near and dear to our hearts.

“It was wild. The fans are incredible, and it just seemed like once we got that first one (David Krejci’s goal), we knew we were going to tie it up. We just kept going, and it’s always fun having a game like that in our rink. It just seems like our fans are so up for it and really enjoy it. It’s just too bad we couldn’t finish it off.” – Brad Marchand

Stat of the Night: 40: The number of saves (including the shootout) that Rangers’ goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made on Tuesday, once again displaying his dominance over the Black and Gold. Despite the three goals allowed (none of which could really be considered “weak” goals, either), the Swedish netminder came through with many clutch stops, including one on Patrice Bergeron during a second period breakaway. With this victory, Lundqvist improves his record to a tremendously impressive 21-7-2 in 30 career games against Boston. Entering Tuesday’s action, the Blueshirts’ beloved goaltender had posted a 1.63 goals against average and a .944 save percentage in his career against the Bruins. Absolutely incredible numbers.

Ben’s Three Stars: 

1)  Henrik Lundqvist (37 Saves)

2) Brad Marchand (1 Goal/2 Shots)

3) Dennis Seidenberg (1 Assists/Plus-2 Rating)

Next Game: Friday February 15, 2013 – 7:00 PM – AT Buffalo Sabres

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About the Author: Boston Bruins writer for Hockey Independent. Contributor to the New England Hockey Journal. Have written for The Hockey Guys and SB Nation Boston. Follow me on Twitter @_BWoodward or shoot me an email at BWoodward.HI@gmail.com.

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