April 1, 2012

Bruins beat Rangers 2-1, clinch Northeast Division title

By Jesse Connolly

Final: Boston 2, New York 1

Recap: As is seemingly always the case against the Rangers, the Bruins fell behind early. Marian Gaborik came in alone and beat Tim Thomas. His 40th of the season made it 1-0.

Boston controlled play in the second period and tied things up early in the frame when Dennis Seidenberg's bomb from the point beat Henrik Lundqvist to make it 1-1. A power-play strike by Patrice Bergeron made it 2-1 midway through the period.
The b's went into a defensive shell in the final frame, as the Rangers out-shot them by a whopping 19-3 margin in the final 20 minutes, but Thomas and Boston prevailed.

Records: Boston 47-28-4, 98 points; New York 50-22-7, 107 points

Key Play of the Game: Hard to peg a specific save with so many opportunities, but the B's were absolutely under attack in the final two minutes of play. Thomas had to flash the pads and scramble in every direction to keep the puck out, but the 37-year-old netminder somehow found a way.

Connolly's Commendations: Speaking of Thomas, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner was simply superb all night. He didn't face a whole helluva lot of chances in the first 40 minutes, but New York spent the entire third period in Boston's zone and came up empty. Thomas finished the night with 33 saves.

Bergeron does it all on a nightly basis for the Bruins and could probably find himself in this section every game. However, No. 37 was magical tonight. His forecheck played a big role in Boston controlling play in the first 40 minutes, as did his domination on faceoffs (17-of-19). And oh yeah, he also scored the game-winning goal.

Connolly's Critiques: Shy of a penalty for delay of game (clearing the puck over the glass), I can't recall a single instance in which I noticed Dan Paille out there. After being a healthy scratch of late, that wasn't exactly a performance that'll merit keeping him in the lineup.

Notes: With an assist on Seidenberg's goal, Zdeno Chara extended his point streak to five games. With the win, the Bruins locked up the Northeast Division and the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Final Thoughts: After going 0-2-1 against the Rangers this season, for the sake of confidence, Boston simply needed to win one against the Blueshirts. Should the two squads meet in the conference finals, the B's will feel a little bit better about themselves with a win against New York under their belt.

Next: The Bruins will host Sidney Crosby and the Penguins on Tuesday at TD Garden.