By Jim Cerny, BlueshirtsUnited.com
Rick Nash scored his first goal of the post-season Sunday afternoon in Boston, but it was not enough for the Rangers who were defeated by the Bruins 5-2 in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at TD Garden. The Rangers trail the best-of-seven series 2-0 heading back home to Madison Square Garden for Games Three and Four Tuesday and Thursday nights.
It is the second straight series the Rangers lost the first pair on the road---suffering the same fate in the quarterfinals against Washington before righting themselves and advancing by winning four of the next five games. The loss drops the Rangers road record in these Stanley Cup Playoffs to 1-5. The Rangers also continued to struggle on the power play, going 0-for-5 with the man advantage Sunday, running their futility to 0-for-21 on the road during the playoffs, and 2-for-36 overall.
Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Torey Krug all notched two points for the Bruins in Game Two, while Tuukka Rask starred in goal with 35 saves. The Rangers---who never led in the game, though did tie the score on two occasions---received goals from Nash and Ryan Callahan, while Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves.
Trailing 3-2 entering the third period, the Rangers allowed a backbreaking goal by Marchand just 26 seconds into the final period of play to effectively snuff out any thoughts of a comeback on the road. Eerily similar to how Boston scored the overtime game winner in Game One of this series, Marchand went hard to the net to convert a perfect pass from Bergeron, just as he did on Thursday night.
Milan Lucic's tap-in at 12:39 padded the Bruins lead to 5-2.
Johnny Boychuk's goal at 12:08 of the second period was the difference as the Bruins carried a 3-2 lead into the third period, despite the Rangers firing 27 shots through 40 minutes at Rask. The Finnish netminder was at his best in that middle stanza, denying Ryan McDonagh twice from point-blank range and Carl Hagelin late in the period with a right-pad save even with his momentum carrying him the other way from Hagelin's trick snap shot. Rask stopped 15 of 16 shots in the second period.
Boychuk's goal snapped a 2-2 tie. The Bruins defenseman sent a snap shot past Lundqvist, who was screened by both his own defenseman---Dan Girardi---and Bergeron. The goal was Boychuk's third of the playoffs.
The Rangers had twice rallied in the first two periods to tie the game shortly after Boston had grabbed the lead. Less than three minutes after Krug, the rookie defenseman, beat Lundqvist through the five-hole to open the scoring at 5:28 of the first period, Callahan pulled the Rangers even. Callahan picked off a Marchand pass at center ice, blew past defenseman Dougie Hamilton, and beat Rask on the breakaway to make it 1-1 at 8:01 of the opening period with his second goal of the post-season.
A bad bounce off Girardi's skate after he had blocked a Krug shot led directly to Boston' second goal early in the second period. Gregory Campbell picked up the loose puck in the low slot after Girardi's block and whisked his first of the playoffs past Lundqvist at the 2:24 mark of the middle stanza, giving Boston a 2-1 advantage.
But Nash---who minutes earlier had been stopped by Rask on a partial breakaway---scored his much-anticipated first goal of the playoffs at 3:20 to tie the game 2-2. Nash skated past Zdeno Chara at full speed and snapped a forehand shot from right wing to the far side of Rask's cage, finding the back of the net after eight games of playoff futility this spring.
The goal seemed to energize Nash---who had been playing a strong game prior anyway---and head coach John Tortorella tried to maximize this positive development by double-shifting Nash, though the next goal went to Boston's Boychuk instead.
Game Two Sunday was much more physical, and played with more of a nasty edge by both sides compared to Thursday's series opener. Both teams crashed each other's crease with abandon, though also met with much resistance during and after said plays. Twice post-whistle skirmishes led to coincidental minors in the second period, and it seemed that New York's Callahan and Derek Dorsett, and Boston's Nathan Horton and Marchand, were constantly involved in one skirmish or another.
With the Rangers trailing by three goals late in the third period, Dorsett dropped the gloves with Campbell, marking the Rangers' first fighting major in the 2013 post-season.