After playing two consecutive grueling and tightly contested games the Boston Bruins entered Wednesday's matchup against the New York Rangers looking for a bit of revenge. It was these Rangers who injured Tuukka Rask and beat the Bruins 3-2 the game prior to the All-Star break at the TD Garden. But the Bruins, coming in with a two game winning streak, would look to keep reeling in points.
Perhaps one of the game's better parts occurred on a "play" that happened off the ice. After a video message from Sargent Sharon Rau played on the jumbotron at MSG her family in attendance were instantly shocked when their daughter, who was thought to be overseas, appeared right before them in the stands. It was a really poignant moment as she rushed down to the stairs to embrace her parents.
Now as the game itself progressed it was the Rangers who put Bruins' goaltender Jaroslav Halak under pressure. Halak, who has struggled of late, looked dialed in early despite taking a shot off his mask.
Both Halak and his counterpart Alexander Georgiev were stout not giving an inch.
It seemed as if the first 20 minutes would finish scoreless but with 2:15 left in the period it'd be the Rangers' Mika Zibanejad scoring his 22nd of the season for the games' first goal.
The goal came off a one-time blast and while the shot was pretty, the set up by Mats Zuccarello was even nicer. For the Norwegian forward, who has been in some trade rumors, it was his 30th point of the season.
The period would end with the Rangers up 1-0 and outshooting the Bruins 12-9.
With the Bruins chasing the score entering the period things nearly got worse for the visitors. After Kevin Hayes settled a cross-zone pass off his skate he threw the puck towards Halak's crease. After the puck deflected off a body in front chaos ensued after yet through it all it was Halak who while sprawled out across the goal line made a stick save off Jesper Fast.
The Bruins' top line was sputtering and when that's the case the Bruins' offense as a whole often grinds to a halt. This led to Bruce Cassidy to shuffle his lines and the adjustments would work.
First it was Danton Heinen. Inserted back into the lineup Heinen was bumped up to the top line. The move would work for the maligned second year forward who has struggled this year after a solid rookie season. A simple point shot from Matt Grzelcyk was redirected by Heinen, who was facing away from the shot, but the tip was enough to fool Georgiev for Heinen's 7th goal of the season.
Just 1:12 later the Bruins would take the lead and Cassidy's lineup shuffling seemed to light a spark. This time it was Kevan Miller who worked a pass down to the left circle for David Krejci who one-touched a pass over to David Pastrnak for his 31st goal of the season. The 31 goals puts Pasta in a six-way tie for third place for goals scored.
With a lead now the Bruins continued to push and with a power-play chance would look to extend their lead.
Extend they would. It was yet another puck changing direction that would fool the Rangers young goalie who was standing tall for his team through the first two periods.
Georgiev stood no chance as Patrice Bergeron, fresh off playing his 1,000th game, would score his 19th of the season tipping the shot low past Georgiev's glove. Torey Krug and Brad Marchand picked up the assists, for Marchand it was his second assist of the night.
The Bruins narrowly outshot the Rangers 11-10 in the period but managed to get three past Georgiev. Taking a two-goal lead into the final period of regulation the Bruins appeared to be in good shape.
The Bruins opened up the period fast, buzzing around the Rangers' zone. Meanwhile, the Rangers appeared frustrated as they couldn't find clean zone entries into Boston's territory.
But just as the period neared towards the halfway point the Rangers would get some life curtesy of Kevin Hayes.
Halak made a paddle stop on a weak shot but it was Jimmy Vesey who drove hard to the net and centered the rebound back out front for Hayes who buried the puck into a wide open net to pull the Rangers within one. It was Hayes' 12th goal of the season.
Just a little over three minutes after Hayes' goal an ill advised cross-checking penalty by Charlie McAvoy would give the Rangers a power-play and they would make Boston pay.
A point shot from Pavel Buchnevich rebounded off Halak and then the goal post and with not one white jersey around it was Filip Chytil, unchecked, who deposited the loose puck in to tie the game up. For Chytil it was his 10th of the season.
The Bruins squandered their two-goal lead and would head to three-on-three overtime tied up at three.
The only two words to describe the madness that was this overtime period. Rushes up and down the ice for both teams but the Bruins failed to get anything on goal outside of one shot. The Rangers meanwhile were buzzing around Halak firing off six shots in the extra frame.
If not for Halak's brilliance the game could've ended much earlier but the Bruins' backstop came up with a clutch breakaway save on Chytil before absolutely robbing Zibanejad with a sprawling, desperation glove save, after Zibanejad found himself all alone in front.
The Rangers outshot the Bruins 39-31 through 65 minutes and with no further scoring the game would head to a shootout.
A seven-round shootout would see the Rangers emerge victorious 2-1. Zibanejad and Marchand scored in round three and after some hit posts and saves it was Tony DeAngelo who'd score the eventual shootout winner giving the Rangers a come from behind 4-3 win.
The Bruins now fall to 6-6-2 against non-playoff teams in the East. Hopefully, this isn't a trend that continues as they currently sit in a tie with Montreal for third in the Atlantic.
Final: New York 4 Boston 3
The Bruins are off until Saturday, February 9th, when they return home for an afternoon game with the Los Angeles Kings. Puck drop from TD Garden is set for 1:00 P.M.
The Rangers are off till Friday, February 8th, when they take on divisional opponent the Carolina Hurricanes. Puck drop from MSG is set for 8:00 P.M. It is the only game on the NHL schedule that day.
Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)