January 19, 2013

Postgame Breakdown: B's earn win over Rangers in opener

By Jesse Connolly

Shawn Thornton earned a decisive victory in a second-period fight with Mike Rupp. (Getty Images)

Final: Bruins 3, Rangers 1

Recap: With just under six minutes gone in the opening period, Andy Ference whipped a nice pass from his own zone to the opposing blue line, hitting David Krejci. He came in and sent a shot Henrik Lundqvist's way. Milan Lucic banged home the juicy rebound from about 15 feet out to give Boston a 1-0 lead.

That edge doubled with 8:20 gone in the second when Dan Paille showed some nifty hand-eye coordination, redirecting a puck out of mid-air past Lundqvist to make it 2-0. After Brad Richards sent a slapper from the top of the circle past Tuukka Rask to make it 2-1, the two teams got in back-to-back brawls.

First, Shawn Thornton had his way with Mike Rupp, delivering a number of left jabs to the burly forward's jaw. Then, Greg Campbell and Stu Bickel went at it, with Campbell getting in a few solid rights as the two went down to the ice.

In the third, a Johnny Boychuk bomb was redirected by Patrice Bergeron (I swear, watch the replay) past Lundqvist. No. 37's goal (still credited to Boychuk as of this moment) closed out the scoring. 

Records: Boston 1-0-0, 2 points; New York 0-1-0, 0 points

Key Play of the Game: With Boston holding a 2-1 lead, Lucic and Zdeno Chara went to the box 30 seconds apart, forcing the B's to kill a lengthy 5-on-3. They did, keeping the Rangers' five forwards on the ice in check for the entire 90-second two-man advantage and another ten ticks of 5-on-4 play before Ference drew a hooking penalty on Rick Nash.

Connolly’s Commendations: Our first salute of the season goes to Chara, who was -- as per usual -- instrumental in keeping the Blueshirts' dangerous offense in check.

Nice way for Boston's line of Lucic, Krejci and Horton to start out. Horton showed no hesitation in his first game in almost a year and dished out a pair of hits, while Lucic had four.

Speaking of Bruins returning from injury, Adam McQuaid looked a little shaky early on but pulled it together and played an effective 15-plus minutes.

And while we're discussing solid performances, might as well give Rask a hand. The B's backstop rebounded from a not-so-important yet not-so-awesome showing in the scrimmage against Providence, stopping 20-of-21 in the win over New York. 

Connolly’s Critiques: By no means was it a poor showing, but Tyler Seguin was pretty quiet on the night. He was a visible staple on the power play, which did have a few moments where the puck was moved effectively in the offensive zone, but other than that he wasn't a major factor.

Chris Bourque (Boxford, Mass.) began to get more involved after a quiet first forty minutes of play, but -- Bay State native or not -- we can't let that empty net miss slide. From my angle, he must've shot the puck a good ten feet over the crossbar.

Notes: Zdeno Chara was named First Star. The team gave away the shirts off their backs at night's end. The win was Boston's first on opening night since 2008 (5-4 over Colorado). Aly Raisman was in attendance and stopped by the locker room with her family after the game.

Final Thoughts: The return of hockey sure was a fun evening, as the Bruins got solid goaltending, worked hard for some gritty goals, partook in a pair of entertaining fights and started the year off on the right foot.

Next: The B’s will take on the Jets at 1 o'clock on Monday here at TD Garden.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ
Email: jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com