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Round 2
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Stanley Cup Final

Bruins vs Rangers

Essensa gets to turn back the clock at morning skate

Tuesday, 05.21.2013 / 2:42 PM

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor / Bruins-Rangers series blog

NEW YORK -- More than a decade has passed since Bob Essensa played in an NHL game. But on Tuesday morning, the 48-year-old was facing shots again.

The Boston Bruins goaltending coach took Tuukka Rask's spot on the ice at Madison Square Garden for the team's optional skate prior to Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the New York Rangers (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

One of the lighter moments came when Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk ripped a slap shot Essensa didn't even try to stop. He wasn't about to make any quick movements that weren't going to agree with his body.

"Anything I had to reach for … yeah," he said to reporters. "Just like the good old days."

Well, not exactly. In his prime, Essensa was a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL. He broke into the League during the 1988-89 season with the Winnipeg Jets, where he remained until 1993. Essensa also spent time with the Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Phoenix Coyotes, Vancouver Canucks and Buffalo Sabres. He won 173 games in 446 career appearances, posting a 3.15 goals-against average and .895 save percentage.

Though he had fun with the players Tuesday, there won't be any comeback attempt.

"I don't think so," Essensa said, "but I think I’m due for a player's share now."

Bruins coach Claude Julien said, "I know he had to loosen that strap on his belt this morning."

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It's hard to walk into that locker room and look those guys in the eye when they've played -- clearly, that was our best game we've played in the series -- and I thought we deserved a better fate tonight.

— Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper on his team's 3-2 loss to the Canadiens in Game 3 on Sunday