November 19, 2013

Rangers the better team, but Rask rescues Bruins

By Jesse Connolly

Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask makes a step with Rangers center Brian Boyle lurking in front. (Getty Images)

Final: Boston 2, New York 1

Recap: The first period finished scoreless by way of a miracle. Tuukka Rask made that miracle happen, as the B's were outshot 16-6 in the first 20 minutes of action. 

Sure enough, the B's grabbed the lead in the second period, when Shawn Thornton ripped home a pure snipe to give him two goals in his last two games (No. 22 was a healthy scratch down in Raleigh). Later in the frame, with David Krejci off for goalie interference, Dan Paille tallied on a shorthanded breakaway to put Boston up by two.

New York quickly answered before their power play ended, as Derick Brassard's fourth goal of the campaign made it a 2-1 game. That concluded all the scoring on the night. This is usually the part where I'd tell you what Rask did in the third, but he's the lone player worth truly commending so, ah, just keep reading.

Records: Boston 14-6-1, 29 points; New York 10-11-0, 20 points

Key Play of the Game: At the tail end of a New York power play in the first period, Johnny Boychuk hooked Chris Kreider (Boxford, Mass.), who was coming in alone on a breakaway. Rask turned aside his bid on the penalty shot, foreshadowing his dynamite night.

Connolly's Commendations: No. 40 was unquestionably the No. 1 star of the night. Hell, he was so good, he also should've been No. 2 and No. 3. The sure-fire Vezina favorite stopped 43-of-44 shots in this one, repeatedly robbing all of the Rangers' big guns and making it look easy in the process. 

Kudos to Boston's band of blueliners, which overcame losing Dennis Seidenberg on his first shift of the game and were without Matt Bartkowski for a stretch midway through the contest. They yielded a helluva lot of shots, but they -- and Rask -- survived the onslaught. Zdeno Chara logged a herculean 31:27 of ice time.

The Merlot line was tremendous during last year's playoff series against the Blueshirts. I suppose we shouldn't be surprised it was Paille and Thornton that buried Boston's goals.

Connolly's Critiques: Milan Lucic appeared to be skating at half-speed tonight. No. 17 had no shots on goal, just fished for pucks and managed to dish out just one hit in 14:34 of ice time.

Brad Marchand was fairly invisible until taking an incredibly ill-advised penalty in the third period of a one-goal game, as he needlessly cross-checked Mats Zuccarello into the boards. 

Notes: The B's conclude their three-game road trip with a 2-1 record. ... David Krejci has now gone four games without a point. 

Final Thoughts: The Rangers' edge in shots might not have been proportional to their advantage when it came to scoring chances, but there's no denying that the Bruins were absolutely dominated in this one. If the saying goes that everyone should buy the goalie a steak dinner when he bails them out, Rask deserves a lifetime's supply of meals at Bern's, the Outback or wherever else he enjoys getting his sirloin on. 

Next: The Bruins will return home and play host to the Blues on Thursday.