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Lundqvist fantastic as Rangers win big game over the Bruins

Bobby Bevilacqua

Rangers celebrate a goal 3-23

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

In a battle of two teams desperate to strengthen their playoff positions, the Rangers (42-24-8) came away with a 5-2 win over the Boston Bruins (39-27-8), handing them their fourth straight loss.

Apart from a dreadful third period, where the Rangers parked the bus again, it was a pretty good performance from the Rangers. I thought their defensive play was tight and organized, their first period was fantastic, and they scored quickly and early.

But I will forever be concerned about the way that Alain Vigneault handles the team in late game situations. Henrik Lundqvist faced 41 shots while the Rangers had just 24. As a team, the Rangers were a -37 in possession. It’s typically not a winning formula in the playoffs, but when Lundqvist is in net anything is possible. However, that’s a risky strategy.

The Bruins were not happy with the first period, but the Rangers were ecstatic after scoring twice on the power play. The game was called very tight against the Bruins and they had a goal called back, leading to some dissatisfaction from Claude Julien.

The Rangers built up the pressure early in the period, getting a power play four minutes into the game. No goal was scored, but they had some great chances and set the tone on the man advantage. So when Eric Staal drew a penalty just three minutes later, the Blueshirts capitalized.

On the man advantage, Keith Yandle made a fantastic pass through the Bruins defense and over to Mats Zuccarello on the side of the net. The pass caught Rask off guard and out of position, and Zuccarello was able to beat Rask for his 24th goal of the season. Derek Stepan had the secondary assist, making him the second Ranger in franchise history to score at least 40 points in each of his first six seasons.

It looked like the Bruins had tied the game just minutes later, with Lee Stempniak sending a rebound past Lundqvist, but Alain Vigneault challenged that the play was offside. After review, it was clear that Brad Marchand didn’t have control of the puck and crossed the blue line before the puck did, and the goal was called off, very demoralizing for the Bruins.

Shortly after that the Rangers got the benefit of the doubt when David Krejci was called for a questionable holding penalty. And the Rangers capitalized again. After a Lundqvist save, Keith Yandle carried the puck through the neutral zone, split the defense and sent a fantastic pass over to Derek Stepan for a tap in and a 2-0 New York lead.

The Bruins started to generate their own scoring chances late but Lundqvist made some good saves, specifically on Loui Eriksson’s shot as time expired. The Bruins were up in shots, 9-8, but the Rangers led where it counted.

To kick off the second period, Julien replaced Tuukka Rask with backup Jonas Gustavsson after Rask allowed two goals on eight shots. He had been dealing with an illness this week, so it could be stemming from that.

New York wasted no time, scoring just over five minutes into the period. Kevin Klein made a nifty little pass to spring Derick Brassard on a breakaway, and he blasted an incredible slap shot top shelf for the Rangers’ third goal of the game, and his 26th of the season.

The Bruins started to wake up following a big hit from JT Miller on captain Zdeno Chara, knocking the big man down to the ice. That pissed off the Boston players and lit a fire under their rears. After killing off a long penalty, the Bruins broke through with their first goal of the game.

Patrice Bergeron made a great play to deflect Ryan McDonagh’s attempted outlet pass, creating a 2-on-none play for Brad Marchand and former Ranger Lee Stempniak. Marchand looked like he was going to shoot, but instead passed it off to Stempniak for an easy tap-in.

Boston had most of the pressure as the period was winding down, outshooting the Rangers 14-9 in the second period. On the first Bruins power play, Henrik Lundqvist made some fantastic saves as the B’s were swarming. He continued to play well until the horn sounded, and the Rangers headed into the locker room with a 3-1 lead.

The third period was your typical “New York Rangers defensive shell, park the bus and rely on Lundqvist to keep the lead” affair. The Bruins had a ton of shots on goal, the Rangers barely pressured or played offense, and Henrik Lundqvist made some spectacular saves.

Lundqvist’s best save of the game came a few minutes into the period, robbing Lee Stempniak of a goal. Marchand made a great pass over to Stemp, who tried to send it into the open net. But Lundqvist made an amazing save, stretching out his glove hand and stopping the puck very close to the goal line. There was a review, but the call stood as no goal.

Shortly after that, the Rangers took the momentum of the big save and scored, with JT Miller scoring his 20th goal of the season. An incredible display of passing, with Zuccarello feeding Stepan in the slot, and Stepan finding Miller at the side of the net.

The Bruins would score again and bring it back to a two goal game. Loui Eriksson made a great backhand pass to Frank Vatrano, and his wrist shot beat Lundqvist. But after that, Hank held down the fort and made some more great saves, including this one on Patrice Bergeron.

The Blueshirts have a day off before taking on the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

THREE STARS

1) Derek Stepan – 1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG, 17:04 TOT

2) Henrik Lundqvist – 39 SV, .951 SV%

3) Keith Yandle – 2 A, 22:00 TOT

 

 

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Posted on March 24, 2016, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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