BOSTON -- In a game that lived up to its billing, the Rangers made the Bruins pay for Andrew Ference’s brutal hit on defenseman Ryan McDonagh, knocking off Boston 3-2 with less than four seconds remaining in overtime.
With the game tied at 2 and Boston down a man after Ference’s devastating blow earned him a five-minute charging major and game misconduct, Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask made two spectacular saves with time waning. He almost shut the door on a frenetic overtime period, put Marian Gaborik persisted, backhanding the puck past him with 3.6 on the clock to notch his second goal of the game and give the Rangers a thrilling win against the Stanley Cup Champions.
“We had two good chances, Cally’s chance and my chance,” said Brad Richards, who snapped a six-game scoreless streak. “I thought I scored. I didn’t even see it. I just saw Gabby jumping around, so it was very satisfying to finish it off like that.”
Even more satisfying because it enabled the Rangers to exact revenge on Ference and the Bruins after his hit injured McDonagh.
“Going into that power-play you definitely want to make them pay and score that goal so [MacDonagh’s] not getting that hit for nothing," said captain Ryan Callahan, who opened the scoring at 1:31 of the second.
McDonagh wasn’t on the ice to relish the victory, however. The 22-year-old defenseman lay on the ice for several minutes after Ference’s blast from behind, a nasty blow that sent him hurling face-first into the end-boards. He skated off on his own but went immediately to the trainer’s room.
“It’s one of the most dangerous hits I’ve seen in a while,” said coach John Tortorella, who had no update on McDonagh’s condition after the game.
Ference expressed remorse after the game, but is likely to face supplementary discipline for his reckless hit. Any play that receives a game misconduct automatically warrants a review by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.
“Nothing has to be said as far as what should be done,” Tortorella said. “It’s a pretty easy call as far as I’m concerned.”
Gaborik scored on the ensuing power-play -- the team’s first man-up goal in eight games -- and it allowed the Rangers to create some separation in the standings. The 30-12-4 Blueshirts lead the Bruins by two points in the Eastern Conference standings after the two team’s first meeting of the season.
“At the end, we put the puck on the net and we got three glorious scoring chances, and the third one we got a goal,” Gaborik said. “We were glad we scored that one.”
Heading into Saturday’s showdown as losers in three of their last five games, the Rangers traveled to Boston desperately seeking a bounce-back win. They got that with a hard-fought, physical victory over arguably the toughest team in the league.
As they have so many times this season, the Rangers found a way.
“’We’ve bounced back all year and we did it again,” Richards said.
“Obviously, it’s fun. Saturday afternoon against the Stanley Cup Champions in Boston. If you don’t know it’s big game, you shouldn’t be in the locker room.”