Once Patrice Bergeron’s skating days are over, perhaps he’s discovered a second career – as a psychic.
“I think we’ve got to keep playing the way we’ve been playing,” Bergeron said when asked what the Bruins needed to do to keep their season opening hot streak going. “I think character has been key so far. We haven’t had our best games every time and we’ve found ways to battle back and get back into the game and get the lead.”
Down 3-0 after New York Rangers’ defenseman Anton Stralman squirted a little dribbler past Bruins’ goalie Tuukka Rask with just over 11 minutes left in the game, the Bruins went on a scoring binge, netting three goals including the tying goal with under a minute to play…
…but after a scoreless overtime, the Rangers outscored the Bruins 2-1 in a shootout to take a wildly entertaining 4-3 shootout victory. They didn’t quite take back the lead, but Bergeron nailed everything else.
Looking to restore their identity, the New York Rangers invaded TD Garden on Tuesday night carrying with them a two game winning streak but also a 1-3-0 record on the road.
What they got was a tightly contested defensive effort with fantastic goal tending and nifty skating.
“Boston is a tough building to play in, but I think this is the next step in restoring our identity, by playing well in a big road game,” defenseman Michael Del Zotto told the Rangers’ official website.
And if an aggressive style of play featuring inspired board play and violent floor checking that sent bodies flying and tempers flaring is the identity that they were searching for, then mission accomplished.
Derek Stepan scored his second of the season and Carl Hagelin scored his fourth leading the Rangers to their third straight win. To add insult to injury, defenseman Anton Stralman scored his first ever NHL goal on a dribbler between Rask’s pads, who slammed his stick to the ice in frustration after giving up the weak wrister.
Initially the Rangers aggressiveness left their net minder Henrick Lundqvist exposed a couple of times early, but he was fantastic in goal – and after stopping eight shots in the first 10 minutes to keep the scoreless tie, Rangers’ left winger Carl Hagelin scorched a one timer past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead at 10:37.
Dan Girardi took control of a puck that was dumped at mid ice along the boards to allow the Bruins to make a line change and zipped a pass to Rick Nash who carried it across the blue line past the changing Bruins, charged the goal and made a nifty outside/inside move to pull the puck past the defenseman before passing to the streaking Hagelin who beat Rask easily.
Another neutral zone mistake, this one on Milan Lucic, led to the Rangers’ second goal. Lucic made a cross ice pass toward Dougie Hamilton but sent it fluttering behind him. Stepan whirled around, took the carom off the boards and broke toward Rask, firing from to top of the left circle and over Rask’s left shoulder for a 2-0 New York lead.
Stralman’s goal had nothing on it, but somehow squirted through Rask’s pads and dribbled into the goal behind him, telling one all they need to know about how the Boston net minder’s night had gone to that point…
…and by the time David Krejci wristed in a rebound past Lundqvist to get the Bruins within two goals at 8:44, it already seemed too late – but these are the Bruins that Bergeron claimed were great at battling back and with Tuukka pulled out of net and the Bruins skating 6 on 5, Nathan Horton and Brad Marchand scored within 48 seconds of each other to improbably knot the game at 3-3 with just 43 seconds left in the game
The Bruins swarmed Lundqvist after pulling Rask, Horton scoring on the rebound of an Andrew Ference drive that was deflected by Lucic, then Marchand slapping in the rebound off of a Bergeron shot and suddenly the game that looked completely lost was headed to overtime.
In the shootout, Rangers’ puck handling ace Nash absolutely abused Rask, this time using an inside/outside move to fake the Bruins’ goalie out of his pads and slip the puck past him easily, but then Marchand extended the shootout with a wicked drive from the right point before Ryan Callahan ended the game with a wrister between Rask’s pads.
Now the red hot Rangers take thier act back to MSG, where they host thier rivals from Long Island on Thursday then welcome the Washington Capitals in on Sunday while the Bruins embark on a difficult stretch of five straight on the road, starting back in Buffalo on Friday night, then Winnepeg on Sunday before finishing the roadie with a two game swing through Florida and a visit to the Island to close out the month.