Rangers miss chance to sweep Bruins in Boston
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• RANGERS GAME CENTER
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
In a game billed as a “must-win” for both teams, the Rangers dropped a frustrating 2-1 decision to the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Sunday afternoon. As a result, they now trail the Bruins by five points for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 10 games left to play.
“It’s really disappointing and frustrating,” said goaltender Henrik Lundqvist
, who made 29 saves. “It was the biggest game of the year, so far, and we couldn’t match them. As long as we have a chance (for a playoff spot), though, we will continue to fight.”
Boston defeated the Rangers for the first time in four tries this season. Rookie goaltender Tuukka Rask lost his shutout bid with 3:04 left to play when Michael Del Zotto
zipped his eighth goal of the season through a crowd in front and into the back of the cage.
The Rangers entered the third period trailing 1-0 and desperate to rally for a victory. But after Rask withstood several different flurries, the Bruins scored the back-breaking goal at 10:20.
Defenseman Dennis Wideman sent a tricky backhand shot from the left circle past the gloved hand of Rangers’ goalie Henrik Lundqvist
for his fourth goal of the season. Undaunted Lundqvist stood tall and denied a pretty Bruins’ 3-on-1 moments after Wideman’s score.
“I had my guy in front of me and he shot it right through my guy so I didn’t pick it up,” said Lundvqist.
After more than 36 minutes of scoreless hockey the Bruins broke through and scored the first goal of the game, doing so mere seconds after Lundqvist turned aside a penalty shot to keep the game 0-0.
The penalty shot was called at 16:13 of the second period when Boston’s Daniel Paille got behind Artem Anisimov
and skated in on Lundqvist.Anisimov threw his arms around Paille while chasing him from behind -- denying Paille a shot on goal, but drawing the penalty shot in the process.
With the home crowd on its feet and roaring, Paille skated in quickly towards Lundqvist, but the Rangers goaltender calmly held his ground and kicked out his left pad to stop Paille’s snap shot. There was no shortage of Rangers fans in attendance, and chants of “Hen-rik, Hen-rik!” filled the air at TD Garden as if it were Madison Square Garden.
But the good feeling lasted only 23 seconds for the visitors. Boston won an offensive-zone faceoff, and defenseman Andrew Ference skated with the puck from the right side of the ice to the left circle, drawing several Rangers to that side. Miroslav Satan then filled an opening on the right wing, and Ference found him with a quick pass which Satan slammed into the net for his fifth goal of the season at 16:36.
“The momentum shift there was huge,” said Del Zotto. “Hank makes the big one on that penalty shot, which gets the bench going. But then we give it right back.”
There was nothing Lundqvist could do to stop Satan’s goal, certainly a helpless feeling for the Rangers’ best player on Sunday. Lundqvist was splendid when needed, especially over the first four minutes of the game when the Bruins had the jump on the visitors, registering six of the first seven shots of the game.
The Rangers settled down with the help of Boston’s parade to the penalty box. The Rangers had three power-play opportunities in the first period and another three in the second. They were unable to take advantage on any of their six power plays.
“We got absolutely nothing out of our power play,” said Rangers head coach John Tortorella.
The most frustrating segment of the contest for the Rangers began 8:30 into the second period when Zdeno Chara -- whistled for four minor penalties on Sunday -- was assessed a double-minor for high-sticking Marian Gaborik
With a chance to snap a scoreless tie and, perhaps, put a pair on the scoreboard, the Rangers instead could not manage even one shot on goal during the double-minor. Four minutes later the Bruins scored the all-important first goal of the afternoon.
“Our power play killed us (today), to be honest,” said Del Zotto. “We had no chances on that four-minute one, didn’t even have a shot on net. They did a good job of pressuring up ice, but we just didn’t follow through on the game plan.”
The few times that the Rangers did create prime scoring chances against the defensively stout Bruins, Rask was there to hold them off the scoreboard. Chris Drury
, Vinny Prospal
, and Gaborik all worked hard to create chances, only to be frustrated by Rask over the initial 40 minutes. And when the Rangers surged at the start of the third period, Rask confidently came way out of his crease to stone Brandon Dubinsky
on an open scoring chance.
To add injury to insult, the Rangers lost the services of winger Ryan Callahan
late in the second period. Callahan skated full speed down the ice to negate an icing call, but ended up being driven hard into the back boards by Chara. Hunched over, Callahan immediately went to the bench and did not return for the remainder of the game.
“We end up saying a lot of the same things we’ve said all year, one bounce, one play here or there and we’d get the two points,” said Drury. “But close doesn’t matter right now.”
The Rangers will look to regroup when they host the Islanders at MSG on Wednesday night.
|Three star selections