By Jim Cerny, BlueshirtsUnited.com
Brad Marchand's goal 15:40 into overtime lifted the Boston Bruins past the Rangers 3-2 in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals Thursday night at the TD Garden. Game Two will be played up in Boston on Sunday afternoon.
Marchand, who seemed to suffer an injury during the morning skate---leaving the ice in some pain and before the rest of his teammates Thursday morning---scored the winner off a Patrice Bergeron feed as the Bruins skated on a 3-on-2 rush into the Rangers zone.
The Rangers have now lost all three overtime games they have played in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and have dropped 11 of their last 13 postseason overtime contests dating back to 2007. Boston is 3-0 in overtime this postseason.
Henrik Lundqvist was brilliant in defeat for the Rangers, finishing with 45 saves in Game One. He was at his absolute best in overtime, stopping 16 shots until Marchand's goal. Lundqvist was completely under siege early in the extra period when Boston skated on a power play starting at 2:20 of overtime, time and again turning aside shot after shot.
Tuuka Rask faced only five shots in overtime for Boston and finished with 33 saves.
After the Rangers had received a late second -period goal from Ryan McDonagh tie tie the game 1-1, Derek Stepan opened up the third period by beating Rask through the five-hole just 14 seconds in to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead. However with Steve Eminger in the penalty box, the Rangers first lead of the series was shortlived as rookie defenseman Torey Krug's slap shot snuck under Lundqvist's left arm at 2:55, evening the score at 2-2.
In one end to end sequence about six minutes after Krug's goal both teams came within inches of reclaiming the lead. First David Krejci skated in untouched and ripped a shot off the crossbar behind Lundqvist, and then when the Rangers went the other way, Rask made a terrific pad save on Derick Brassard from in front.
The final minutes of regulation were frantic ones as the Bruins killed a Rangers power play and then the Rangers thwarted a Boston man advantage with Lundqvist making two huge saves and Dan Girardi diving to block a shot in front of an open net after one of Lundqvist's saves.
And as the buzzer sounded signaling the end to the third period, Bruins defenseman Johnn Boychuk cranked a right wing slap shot off the far post, officially sending the game to overtime.
Trailing 1-0 on a Zdeno Chara goal earlier in the period, the Rangers pulled even on McDonagh's buzzer beater right before the arrival of the second intermission. Rick Nash---who played a forceful offenisve game all night long---burst up right wing, carried the puck around Boston's net, and attempted a wraparound which was stopped by Rask. Nash and Brassard kept the rebound alive, with Nash eventually slipping the puck back to McDonagh at the left point with the clock winding down. McDonagh quickly fired a shot towards the net, which beat Rask through Brassard's screen, and the Rangers tied the game 1-1 with just 1.3 seconds remaining in the second period.
Brassard extended his point-scoring streak to six consecutive games with the assist he earned on McDonagh's goal. The red-hot Brassard now has a team-high ten points in eight playoff games this spring.
McDonagh's score offset Chara's series-opening goal 12:23 into the second period. Krejci---who now has an NHL-best 14 points in the post-season---sped into the Rangers zone and then slid a pass to Chara just inside the blueline. Chara snapped a shot towards the net which handcuffed the un-screened Lundqvist. The puck dropped behind the Rangers netminder, and as Lundqvist fell backwards he hit the puck and it slid over the goal line to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
That goal snapped Lundqvist's shutout streak at 152 minutes and 23 seconds. He had not surrendered a goal since Mike Ribeiro scored the overtime winner in Game Five of the first round against the Blueshirts in Washington last Friday.
That the score was even after two periods, and the shots were 21-20 in favor of the Rangers, was fairly representative of how even the first 40 minutes of the series were on Thursday. After a cautious first period by both teams, play opened up a bit in the middle stanza, with each club generating bursts of offensive surges before seeing the other team return the favor.
Nash was extremely active in the offensive zone, even drawing the team's first power play of the series when Chara was forced to hook him as he tore up right wing at 4:38 of the second period. And the grinders---Brian Boyle, Taylor Pyatt, and Derek Dorsett---were extremely effective down low against Boston's defense---which was without three injured veterans in Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ferrence, and Wade Redden.
The Bruins young defensemen playing in the place of the veterans turned in solid efforts with Krug scoring his first career playoff goal and Dougie Hamilton earning his first career post-season point, assisting on Krug's power play goal.
Both teams nearly lost a veteran defenseman each in the opening two periods. Rangers blueliner Michael Del Zotto---who earlier in the game had his shot ring off the crossbar---was hit in the ear by a Patrice Bergeron shot late in the opening stanza and was helped off the ice; and Boston blueliner Johnny Boychuk layed on the ice for several minutes following a Pyatt boarding penalty early in the second period. Both Del Zotto and Boychuk were able to return to action, though.