Boston Bruins Ready Brooms With Game 3 Victory in New York

2013 NHL Playoffs
2013 NHL Playoffs
May 21 2013 New York NY USA Boston Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk 55 celebrates after scoring on New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist 30 during the third period in game three of the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden Boston won 2 1 Debby Wong USA TODAY Sports

Following a 2-1 victory on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, the Boston Bruins look destined for a return to the Eastern Conference Finals. Now holding a very comfortable 3-0 series lead over the New York Rangers, the Bruins have finally hit their stride. Meanwhile, the Broadway Blue Shirts seem to lack any sense of urgency as their season slips away.

The Black and Gold certainly packed their momentum for the short trip from Beantown to the Big Apple, looking much like the club that drubbed the Rangers 5-2 at TD Garden on Sunday afternoon. From the first drop of the puck, they carried the play, constantly threatening the Rangers’ net. A pair of early breakaways from Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin threatened to turn the tilt into a bloodbath, but Henrik Lundqvist responded with his best game of the series to keep the Rangers in it.

While the Bruins’ swarming attack helped King Henrik add to his highlight reel, the Rangers lacked pace and creativity on offense. Rick Nash and Ryan Callahan, who used their speed and aggression to score both Ranger goals on Sunday, failed to ignite John Tortorella’s drowsy-looking club with lackluster performances. The Rangers looked especially woeful on their oft-maligned powerplay, failing to display any sort of structure entering the offensive zone. More often than not the puck-carrier became a lone ranger, no pun-intended, crossing the blue line without any legitimate support.

Despite their mediocre efforts, the Rangers managed to strike first roughly four minutes into the second period. Ryan McDonagh let fly from the point, and Taylor Pyatt tipped the puck past a brutally screened Tuukka Rask. With Pyatt flanked by the enormous bodies of Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton, Rask was left completely blind as he surrendered the only blemish in an otherwise sparkling performance.

Despite conceding, the Bruins continued to control the tempo thanks in great part to rookie revelation Torey Krug. The former-Michigan State captain failed to stretch his scoring streak to three games, but he looked like Boston’s most-dangerous player for much of the game. Unlike his notoriously conservative teammates on the Bruins’ defensive corps, Krug looked poised and deadly as he repeatedly carried the puck into the zone before launching a quality shot or making a clever pass. The undersized defenseman created some of Boston’s best chances and perhaps more importantly kept the fatigued Rangers their heels.

Read More: 2013 NHL Playoffs: Mid-Second Round Review

As the Rangers tired, it became readily apparent that they could not match the Bruins ability to roll four lines. Boston’s fourth trio, nicknamed the Merlot Line after their dark red practice jerseys, provided the difference in the game. While the likes of Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Tyler Seguin couldn’t get anything by Lundqvist, it was the combo of Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille that tied the game and eventually won it for Boston.

Early in the third period, Paille wheeled around the net after picking up a rebound to find Johnny Boychuk open at the point. Boychuk made use of a textbook screen from Thornton and Campbell to find the twine for the fourth time this postseason. With three and half minutes remaining it was the Merlot Line once again that picked up the game winner.

Shawn Thornton tipped a Gregory Campbell shot off the cross bar and then the goal-line to send Lundqvist squirming. While Thornton prematurely celebrated what he thought was a goal, Daniel Paille finished the job, tapping the puck into the night. In the final minutes the Rangers mounted little response, with Tuukka Rask ably denying any attempts to tie the game.

The Bruins outshot the Rangers 25-13 in the final two periods, demonstrating New York’s total dependence on their defending Vezina winner. It took back-to-back shutouts from Hank to spare the Rangers a first round exit, and they may need even more from him now. It looks as if the players are no longer buying into John Tortorella’s system, resulting in their offensive futility. Three straight losses has put the hot-headed coach firmly on the hot-seat, and it may take a miracle to save his job.

Only one team has ever climbed out of a 3-0 hole in the NHL playoffs, but the Bruins remember it all to well. Three years ago, Claude Julien‘s team seemed certain to finish off the Philadelphia Flyers, before suffering the most brutal collapse in NHL history. The Bruins responded the following postseason by sweeping the Flyers out of the playoffs en route to a Stanley Cup.

Having won a Game 7 OT thriller in round one and primed for a potential second round sweep, these Bruins are starting to look a lot like the 2011 Cup champions. All of a sudden looking quick, skilled and physical the bear has emerged from hibernation. The Rangers, on the other hand, look battered and bruised against the ropes. Whether or not they can muster any resistance outside of their well-protected crease remains to be seen in Thursday’s potentially decisive Game 4 at MSG.

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Chris Blanchard
Chris Blanchard is a Boston, MA native and a student at Davidson College. He began writing about hockey as a Boston Bruins featured columnist for Bleacher Report in the fall of 2012. He has been covering the NHL for XN Sports since May of 2013. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+'://';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');