|NYR||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||0|
|BOS||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||1|
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
That the Rangers and Bruins, two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, played a playoff-caliber contest on Saturday afternoon at the TD Banknorth Garden was to be expected.
That rookie goaltender Tuukka Rask, making his first appearance of the season, would be the difference in the Bruins 1-0 victory over the Rangers was surely unexpected.
Rask made 35 saves to record his first National Hockey League shutout, and Marc Savard scored the game’s only goal late in the second period for the Bruins, who own a conference-best 78 points. Rask’s shutout was the fourth by an opposing goaltender against the Rangers this season.
“We played the best team in the Eastern Conference right to the letter,” stated Rangers head coach Tom Renney. “I thought we played a pretty good road game. It’s one of those things where an error here or there against a team like this is going to cost you. And that’s what happened on their goal.”
With Boston scheduled to also play an important divisional contest against the Canadiens on Sunday, Bruins head coach Claude Julien opted to give Rask his first NHL start of the season while saving All-Star goalie Tim Thomas for Sunday’s match. Rask had been recalled from the minor leagues earlier in the week to take the place of backup Manny Fernandez, who has a sore back.
Rask, a 21 year-old who appeared in four NHL matches last season, rewarded Julien with a splendid performance, displaying calm and confidence throughout. His big-time saves on back-to-back shots by Ryan Callahan and Paul Mara during a scramble nine minutes into the third period were game-saving stops. He also robbed Scott Gomez twice on the doorstep late in the third.
Henrik Lundqvist rebounded well in goal for the Rangers, coming off of a 6-2 loss in Pittsburgh on Wednesday in which he surrendered five goals in the third period. Lundqvist finished with 26 saves, including a pair of stellar stops on Mark Stuart and Chuck Kobesaw 1:45 into the final stanza that kept the Rangers in the game, trailing only 1-0.
“We played a pretty good game,” observed Lundqvist. “You can see why they have a really good record, though, and are really good in close games. I think we did what we could here, and we did a lot of good things. We just have to accept that we played a really good team today.”
The Rangers were forced to play most of the contest without defenseman Dmitri Kalinin, who left the ice with about three minutes to go in the first period with, what the team reported as, “an upper-body injury”.
On the play, Kalinin battled a pair of Bruins in the corner to Lundqvist’s left and after the puck was cleared away he dropped to the ice on one knee in obvious pain or discomfort. Kalinin headed to the dressing room with trainer Jim Ramsay and did not return to action.
Despite playing with only five defensemen, the Rangers turned in a collectively solid defensive outing. The rearguards all stepped up, and were aided by a committed group of forwards, with Blair Betts, Chris Drury, Fredrik Sjostrom, and Zherdev all standing out with their defensive zone play.
“It’s outstanding what our guys did,” said Renney. “I think our forwards helped out in a big way, making sure they were back, and our ‘D’ did a really good job.”
The only goal of the game was not scored until the waning moments of the second period, and it was Savard, the former Ranger, who delivered the important goal for the Bruins.
Boston fired the puck around the boards in the Rangers’ zone from left to right, and it appeared that Nigel Dawes would be able to reach the puck first and chip it out of danger. However, Boston’s Milan Lucic disrupted Dawes with a solid body check, took the puck away, and sent it back to defenseman Dennis Wideman at the right point.
Wideman ripped into a slap shot that was deflected perfectly in a downward motion by Savard, who was stationed at the top of the Rangers’ crease. The puck bounced past Lundqvist for Savard’s 19th goal of the season, and the Bruins had a 1-0 lead with 22.2 seconds remaining in the second period.
“That’s a tough goal with 22 seconds to go,” said Lundqvist. “It’s such a tough play because I have to reach for the shot and then he deflects it straight down. It’s hard to be in two places at one time.”
It was an extremely frustrating way for the period to end for the Ranger,s because they had played an outstanding road contest to that point. The Rangers left little room for the Boston forwards to breathe, and the Bruins scoring chances were not plentiful. And when the Bruins did have a seemingly good opportunity, Lundqvist was up to the challenge, just as he was 2:02 into the second when he moved across the crease quickly and positioned himself perfectly to make a stick save on Shane Hnidy’s left wing blast.
The Rangers had several excellent chances to score themselves in a middle stanza which saw them outshoot the Bruins 11-9. Markus Naslund had two of those great chances, first off a spinning snap shot from the slot 7:43 into the period and then on a weaving right wing shot that required a solid pad save by Rask at 18:36.
Neither team generated much offensively in the scoreless first period. Boston had the early territorial advantage, and Lundqvist was forced to make a difficult stop on Michael Ryder’s in-close attempt within the game’s first two minutes. At 5:04, Phil Kessel burst past defenseman Wade Redden for a clear breakaway on Lundqvist, but the Rangers’ netminder made a big blocker save to keep the Bruins off the scoreboard.
Midway through the opening period, the Rangers began to turn the advantage more in their favor following glass-rattling hits by Aaron Voros in the offensive zone and Brandon Dubinsky in the defensive zone.
Late in the period, the Rangers finally produced quality scoring chances against Rask, but the rookie goalie came up with several strong saves. At 17:30, Dawes deflected a shot on goal which was stopped by Rask, and then Dawes whipped the rebound on goal, but Rask, again, made the pad save. With one minute remaining in the opening stanza, Gomez zipped a perfect pass to Rozsival on right wing, and Rozsival blasted a shot which required a solid blocker stop by Rask.
There would be plenty of solid saves by Rask, 35 in all, and, as such, the Rangers head home to New York looking to snap a two-game slide on Tuesday night when they host the Atlanta Thrashers at MSG, where prior the game the Rangers’ organization will retire Adam Graves’ No. 9 jersey.
|Marc Savard (19) ASST: Dennis Wideman (24), Milan Lucic (17)|
1 - 0 BOS
|Wade Redden Hooking against Phil Kessel|
|Chuck Kobasew Hooking against Nikolay Zherdev|
|Nikolay Zherdev Too many men/ice - bench|
|SA: 27||TOI: 59:11|
|Saves: 26||EV: 26 - 27|
|PIM: 0||PP: 0 - 0|
|SV%: .963||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 35||TOI: 59:58|
|Saves: 35||EV: 33 - 33|
|PIM: 0||PP: 2 - 2|
|SV%: 1.000||SH: 0 - 0|