By: Mandi Mahoney | Check me out on Twitter @phonymahoney
Arena: Madison Square Garden, New York
Home: New York Rangers (22-22-8)
Away: Boston Bruins (29-17-7)
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron —Jake DeBrusk
Peter Cehlarik — David Krejci — David Pastrnak
Joakim Nordstrom — Trent Frederic — Danton Heinen
Sean Kuraly — Noel Acciari — Chris Wagner
Torey Krug — Kevan Miller
Zdeno Chara — Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk — Charlie McAvoy
Scratched: John Moore, Steve Kampfer, David Backes
Chris Kreider — Mika Zibanejad — Mats Zuccarello
Pavel Buchnevich — Kevin Hayes — Jesper Fast
Filip Chytil — Ryan Strome — Vladislav Namestnikov
Vinni Letteri — Boo Nieves — Jimmy Vesey
Marc Staal — Tony DeAngelo
Brady Skjei — Adam McQuaid
Brendan Smith — Kevin Shattenkirk
Scratched: Neal Pionk
Injured: Brett Howden (MCL), Fredrik Claesson (shoulder)
Just over a minute into the action, the Bruins went on the penalty kill after Patrice Bergeron was assessed a minor for tripping Rangers center Mika Zibanejad. While they were shorthanded, Chris Wagner capitalized on a turnover and turned on the jets to go on a breakaway. Bulgarian sensation Alexandar Georgiev made the save, and play went back toward the Bruins’ defensive zone. The play was back and forth for a few minutes with no crazy scoring chances, but solid play all around, especially by both goaltenders. Jaroslav Halak seemed to have gotten past whatever had been dogging him for the last few games. The Rangers managed to get back into the offensive zone, and Brendan Smith let a shot go that Halak saved with his head.
At 13:39, Mark Staal landed in the penalty box due to a completely questionable call for cross checking Sean Kuraly (it was an awkward and accidental hold at best). On the ensuing Bruins power play, the Black and Gold caused some chaos in the Rangers’ end, to no avail. Grzelcyk and McAvoy were both on the ice for this power play, and showed some chemistry, as they did at Boston University.
Once the Rangers killed the penalty, Mika Zibanejad dumped the puck in, with Mats Zuccarello retrieving it by the Bruins’ net. Matt Grzelcyk attempted to break up the play, but his stick got caught in the twine of Halak’s net. This left Zuccarello able to set Zibanejad up for a filthy one-timer goal. Z-Bad is hot these days.
Played resumed with the same tempo after the goal, with Kevan Miller breaking up a scary 2-on-1 opportunity for the Rangers. At 19:08, Sean Kuraly collided with Ranger Boo Nieves, knocking him down and upsetting Jimmy Vesey, who immediately rushed to Nieves’ defense, cross checking Kuraly. Two minor penalties were assessed: roughing for Kuraly, and cross checking for Vesey. Referee Dan O’Halloran assured a whining Nieves that yes, there had been contact, but it was very clearly accidental on Kuraly’s part. Oh, the drama!
Score: 1-0, Rangers
The second stanza began with 4-on-4 hockey due to the Kuraly-Vesey incident, this time with the Bruins getting a few chances in the offensive zone, and Georgiev getting the opportunity to make a save with his melon, too – equal opportunity goaltending. The Bruins continued to prove that aside from their top line and David Krejci, they are fairly inept offensively. At 2:16, Kevan Miller went to the box for a cross checking minor against Vladislav Namestnikov. Naturally, Patrice Bergeron won the faceoff, and the puck heads toward Matt Grzelcyk at the point, and he sends a laser of a shot toward the net, allowing Danton Heinen to tip it right over Georgiev’s shoulder to tie the game at one goal apiece. Secondary scoring, folks!
At 11:49, the Rangers turned the puck over at the blue line, with Kevan Miller making a diagonal cross-zone pass from the right point to David Krejci, in the left circle. Krejci executed a beautiful tic-tac-toe move, fling the puck toward David Pastrnak, who was patiently waiting at the top of the crease. Pastrnak was able to bury Krejci’s feed, giving the Bruins a 2-1 lead.
At 12:12, Patrice Bergeron was assessed a laughable minor penalty for “slashing” Mats Zuccarello, who happened to drop his stick with very light contact from Mister Perfect. Officiating was somewhat questionable at Madison Square Garden last night. The resulting power play afforded the Rangers a few good chances, but luckily, the Bruins managed to kill the penalty. Now at even strength, the Bruins were ready to make things happen.
And make things happen, they did! It seemed like the floodgates opened for a minute there, with the Bruins getting several chances in the Rangers’ zone. Brad Marchand passed to Torey Krug, who let a shot go from the blue line. With Jake DeBrusk setting up the screen, Patrice Bergeron was able to deflect the puck home.
Score: 3-1, Bruins
The fourth line began with a solid shift from the Bruins’ fourth line, who seemed to have the Rangers hemmed in for a bit. The play then transitioned to a ping-pong type of game with the Bruins and Rangers going back and forth for several minutes, without any significant scoring chances. Things would get sloppy for the Bruins, though: Pavel Buchnevich received a phenomenal pass at the Bruins’ blue line, took a shot, and Halak made the save. Jimmy Vesey jumped on the juicy rebound, dishing it to Kevin Hayes, who was left alone in the slot. Hayes beat Halak, and the Rangers were within one.
At 12:05, Charlie McAvoy took a penalty for boarding Mika Zibanejad (this was a stupid play and a good call). The resulting Rangers power play would of course yield a goal for them, tying the game. Ryan Strome fed Buchnevich at the point. Buchnevich let one go from the blue line, but Halak made the save. He was slow to find the rebound, which was behind him on his right side, and Filip Chytil managed to capitalize, tying the game at 3. It looked like the Bruins were done blowing leads after the last two games. Oh well.
The Bruins defense began to look sloppier, with Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo causing a little bit of a blunder after great chances by Jesper Fast and Jimmy Vesey. The puck entered the crease at Halak’s left, and fortunately exited to his right. The third period was a little bit chippy, and the Bruins began letting the Rangers carry the puck for long distances without really challenging them. On to overtime…
Overtime in hockey is notoriously stressful. Lately, the Bruins have been particularly unsuccessful in games longer than three periods. Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy rolled out David Pastrnak, David Krejci, and Torey Krug to start. The Bruins and Rangers traded chances for the entire five minutes, with both goaltenders standing on their heads. Jaroslav Halak must have been having an out-of-body experience during overtime, as the man was playing out of his mind. Zibanejad had a fantastic opportunity to bury the OT winner, with Halak robbing him, low glove side.
Neither team would be successful in overtime, however, and this fun game would end up going where great games go to die – the shootout. What a drag.
Bruce Cassidy took a strange approach to this shootout, almost like he thought this would be the way to breathe some life into the players who should be producing offensively, but aren’t. It didn’t make a lot of sense. This shootout lineup boggles the mind:
- Mats Zuccarello – no goal
- Peter Cehlarik – no goal
- Kevin Shattenkirk – no goal
- Mika Zibanejad – goal!
- Brad Marchand – goal!
- Kevin Hayes – no goal
- Charlie McAvoy – no goal
- Filip Chytil – no goal
- Jake DeBrusk – no goal
- Jimmy Vesey – no goal
- Danton Heinen – no goal
- Ton DeAngelo – goal!
- David Krejci – no goal
Notice anyone missing? Patrice Bergeron, Bruins all-time shootout goal leader, perhaps? This did not go unnoticed among Bruins fans and media, because it was really not a good call by Cassidy. Nobody can figure out what he was going for. Oh well, at least the Bruins left New York with a point.
Final Score: 4-3, Rangers
Three Stars Of The Game
First Star: Mika Zibanejad has been on fire lately, and is definitely the one driving the bus offensively for the Rangers. He scored on a sweet one-timer and had a few chances during overtime, as well. He was also one of the few successful shootout
Second Star: Filip Chytil had himself a good game, getting several scoring chances. Scoring the game-tying goal was huge. The rookie has 10 goals and nine assists for 19 points in 52 games.
Third Star: Both goaltenders were better than anyone expected them to be. Jaroslav Halak has been mediocre ate best lately, and Georgiev is having a tough season. They both were very solid between the pipes.