Bruins Waste Golden Opportunity to Sweep Rangers

Boston Bruins vs New York Rangers

Despite another lackluster effort from the New York Rangers, the Boston Bruins cost themselves a sweep with a few critical errors on Thursday night. As a result John Tortorella’s Rangers will live to fight another day, and may pick up some much needed momentum. The Bruins threw away a two goal lead by gift-wrapping a pair of soft goals, allowing former-Boston College star Chris Kreider to be the overtime hero in the Rangers 4-3 victory on home ice.

Boston Bruins vs New York Rangers
May 23 2013 New York NY USA New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider 20 scores the game winning goal on Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask 40 during overtime in game four of the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden Rangers win 4 3 in overtime Debby Wong USA TODAY Sports

The first period looked much like the first three games of the series as the Bruins helped themselves to numerous scoring chances, once again forcing Henrik Lundqvist to come up huge. The Bruins outshot their hosts 12-4 in the first, with Tyler Seguin looking particularly threatening.

The B’s broke through on the power play early in the second period as Nathan Horton scored his fifth of the playoffs. Three minutes later the Bruins cashed in on the man advantage once again by way of wunderkind Torey Krug. Krug fired a laser beam from the high slot for his third goal in just his fourth career playoff game. The rookie defenseman stood out once again, perplexing the Rangers all over the ice.

Following Krug’s goal, the remainder of the series seemed like little more than a formality. However, just moments later the Bruins made their first of two embarrassing mistakes. Speedy Swede Carl Hagelin raced towards the net only to see his shot tipped by a Bruins defender. While the seemingly failed shot trickled towards the net, Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask tripped over his own feet and fell on his behind. Though he scrambled to get a stick to the puck, he helplessly watched the Rangers celebrate the softest goal of the 2013 playoffs.

A renewed Bruins effort halted any shift of momentum, at least until the beginning of the third. Less than two minutes into the final frame, Rask settled the puck behind his net for the sure-handed Zdeno Chara. Trusting Chara to take good care of the biscuit, Rask took his sweet time to return to the crease. Meanwhile, a stealthy Derek Stepan pounced from behind Chara to steal the puck and tuck it easily into the open net.

Despite dominating nearly every facet of the game to that point, the Bruins shot themselves in both feet, rescuing the Rangers from certain death. Even after their tragic concessions, the Bruins kept carrying play. With 12 minutes remaining in the game, Dougie Hamilton fed Tyler Seguin for a backdoor one-timer. Henrik Lundqvist, who sparkled once again, was up to the challenge on Seguin’s first shot, but the frustrated youngster fired home the rebound for his first goal of the playoffs.

The lead only held up for two minutes before Brian Boyle broke the Rangers’ powerplay duck with a blast from the slot, which sent the game into overtime. With their much maligned powerplay finally producing, the Rangers came to life.

New York came out flying in the extra frame, testing the rattled Rask with a series of superb chances. The embattled Finn, despite playing his worst game of the playoffs, came up big to keep the Bruins in it. After the flurry of Rangers chances, the Bruins took charge launching chance after chance, with Torey Krug, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron each nearly ending the series.

In the end Chris Kreider, who broke towards the net after receiving a pretty feed from Rick Nash, converted the game winner for New York against the run of play. One on one with Rask, Kreider picked his spot and sent the oft-silent MSG crowd into bedlam.

Some might say the Rangers stole this one, but the Bruins did far more to beat themselves than John Tortorella’s boys did. With memories of 2010’s collapse at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers now flashing in fans minds, Bruins coach Claude Julien will be tasked with getting the Bruins mentally focused for Game 5 in Boston.

Tuukka Rask, in particular, will need some amnesia to avoid becoming the first goalie in NHL history to lose two playoff series after leading three games to none. Tim Thomas‘ successor has been up to the challenge so far this year, but if the Bruins cannot clinch the series the blame will likely fall on him.

The Bruins rode a wave of confidence to earn their 3-0 series lead, but now that confidence may be shaken. Meanwhile, the embattled Rangers might have found some inspiration on the heels of their unlikely victory. Game 5 should prove to be a mental battle, with the more emotionally prepared team likely to pick up the W.


author avatar
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');