January 21, 2012

Gaborik's late OT goal lifts Rangers over Bruins

By Jesse Connolly

Final: New York 3, Boston 2 (OT)

Recap: After an up-tempo, scoreless first period, Ryan Callahan got the Rangers on the board at the 1:31 mark of the second just moments after coming out of the box. Andrew Ference tied it up less than two minutes later, taking a feed from David Krejci and beating Henrik Lundqvist with a backhander.

New York regained the lead later in the frame when Marian Gaborik sniped a loose puck past Tuukka Rask to make it 2-1, but an Adam McQuaid shot with 49 ticks left deflected off Brian Boyle and by Lundqvist to make it 2-2 heading to the third.

The Rangers failed to capitalize on two power plays in the final ten minutes of regulation. With 1:50 gone in overtime, Ference was whistled for a charging major as the d-man plastered Ryan McDonagh into the boards. Boston nearly escaped the lengthy 4-on-3 power play for New York, but Gaborik buried his second of the night on a rebound with less than four seconds to go in the extra session, giving the Rangers a 3-2 win.

Records: New York 30-12-4, 64 points; Boston 30-13-2, 62 points

Key Play of the Game: No one can blame Rask for slamming his stick over the crossbar after Gaborik’s shot found the back of the net. The netminder made two spectacular glove stops just prior to the game-winner. Boston’s inability to clear the puck out near the top of the crease led to one too many chances.

Connolly’s Commendations: To commend or critique? That’s the question when it comes to Ference’s performance this afternoon. No. 21 tallied for the second-straight game and added an assist, an outing that earned him the No. 2 star for today’s matinee. However, we’ll touch on the negative aspect of his day below.

Milan Lucic had a pretty solid outing against the Blueshirts. The hulking winger picked up an assist and created the space for Ference to come in on Lundqvist by driving to the net. He finished second on the team with a pair of hits.

Rask’s seven-game winning streak came to a crashing halt, but the blame certainly doesn’t belong on No. 40. The Finnish netminder had to make a number of difficult stops throughout the afternoon and certainly did his part.

Connolly’s Critiques: After getting tackled from behind by Ruslan Fedotenko late in the third period, Ference – to these eyes – seemed to be a bit rattled. The defenseman nearly had an uncharacteristic turnover in his own zone before the end of regulation and seemed to abandon his wealth of wisdom and judgment when he drilled McDonagh from behind.

The Bruins as a team tried to be way too fancy on too many occasions. Tyler Seguin came in on a 2-on-1 and -- though Lundqvist made a great play on the winger’s scoring by intercepting his pass – waited way too long to make a decision on whether to shoot or dish the puck.

Rich Peverley made a similar bad decision. No. 49 deked through a number of defenders and had a clear shot from close range, but instead he tried to slip the puck through a defender to Brad Marchand. New York broke up the opportunity.

Boston also got obliterated physically. New York held a 27-12 edge in hits. The Rangers also blocked 22 shots to the B’s 14. Boston put 34 pucks on net, but a total of 24 shots either missed or were stifled by the Rangers.

Joe Corvo’s decision to come down low near the tail-end of a power play in the second period directly led to Callahan’s goal to open the scoring. With the defenseman vacating his point position, not enough bodies in Black and Gold could get back in time to thwart the Rangers’ captain.

Notes: Today was career game No. 500 for defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. McQuaid’s goal was his second of the season and his first since tallying on Nov. 17 in a win over the Blue Jackets.

Final Thoughts: If today was a sign of things to come in the playoffs, a seven-game series between the Bruins and Rangers would be mighty entertaining. For the most part, it was a well-played, entertaining tilt throughout. While Bruins fans are undoubtedly bummed about the outcome, they certainly got their money’s worth today at TD Garden.

Next: It’ll be a quick turnaround for the Black and Gold, as they’ll head down to Philly to take on the Flyers tomorrow at 3 o’clock.