Saturday, January 21, 2012
Rapid reaction: Rangers 3, Bruins 2 (OT)
By James Murphy
BOSTON -- The New York Rangers won a hard-fought battle with the Boston Bruins for Eastern Conference supremacy with a 3-2 win in overtime Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Marian Gaborik scored his second goal of the game and 25th of the season on the power play with 3.6 seconds left in the extra frame to give the Rangers the win. New York leads Boston by two points for the top seed in the East.
Ryan Callahan had the other goal for the Rangers while Andrew Ference and Adam McQuaid scored for Boston. In net, Tuukka Rask made 30 saves in the losing effort while Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves for New York in the win.
Defense jumping in on offense: On Thursday Andrew Ference scored the Bruins' first goal to spark a four-goal explosion in their 4-1 win over the Devils. On Saturday Ference again scored the Bruins' first goal, tying the game at 1-1 3:28 into the second period. But Ference wasn't the only blueliner chipping in: Adam McQuaid tied the game at two with 49 ticks left in the middle frame. Both McQuaid (two goals) and Ference (four goals) aren't known for their offense, but it's clearly evident that the Bruins defense as a whole is making a commitment to be more active offensively. That's a good sign. One of the areas the Bruins are reportedly targeting before the NHL trade deadline on Feb. 27 is a puck-moving/offensive defenseman. With the way the defense is playing, general manager Peter Chiarelli should get a clearer idea of whether he needs to focus on improving it.
Rask vs. Lundqvist: It was another classic goalies' duel between the Bruins and Rangers with Tuukka Rask and Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes Saturday. Both goalies entered the game among the league leaders in goaltending, and they did not disappoint. Rask made 30 saves and Lundqvist made 32. The loss was Rask's first in eight games since Dec. 6, but he by no means was to blame for the loss. These two teams meet three more times this season and could meet in the playoffs. Expect low-scoring affairs in all of those games.
Power play needs to be better against elite teams: The Bruins entered this game with the 11th-ranked power play in the NHL. While that may be better than it was at this point last season, they need to be better on the man-advantage against the elite teams in the NHL. Going 0–for-4 in a battle for first place in the Eastern Conference doesn't cut it, especially against a tight defensive team like the Rangers, who entered the game with the third-best penalty kill in the NHL.
Ference thrown out in overtime: Andrew Ference could be getting a call from NHL head disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. Ference was ejected from the game 1:50 into overtime on a charging call for hitting Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh from behind into the end boards behind the Rangers net. The Rangers were awarded a five-minute power play and converted on it with Marian Gaborik's game-winner with 3.6 seconds left in overtime.
Krejci's vision quest: Over the years Bruins fans have been treated to some pretty amazing playmakers: Adam Oates, Craig Janney, Joe Thornton et al. David Krejci is right there in that list. When the Czech center is in his comfort zone and feeling in control, there is no better passer on the Bruins and that was evident with the tape-to-tape pass he fed Andrew Ference for a second-period goal Saturday. Krejci held the puck, saw his teammate cutting through traffic to the net and thread the needle on that pass before Ference finished it off with a nifty move.
Roster remains the same: The Bruins lineup remained the same as it was in New Jersey on Thursday night. Chris Kelly, who missed practice for a maintenance day Friday, was back between Benoit Pouliot and Rich Peverley. Here's what the Bruins lineup looked like Saturday:
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot-Chris Kelly-Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg-Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference-Adam McQuaid