The New York Rangers and Boston Bruins have been two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference throughout the season and have played three exciting games that have shown how evenly matched they are.
The tightness of the matchups might not be evident based on the season series -- the Rangers are 3-0-0 and will go for the sweep Sunday night (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2) at Madison Square Garden -- but all three games have been close and could have gone either way.
A lot is riding on Sunday's game: the Bruins can wrap up the Northeast Division and the No. 2 spot in the East with a victory while the Rangers can clinch the top spot in the East with a single point following Pittsburgh's loss to Philadelphia Sunday afternoon.
Here's a capsule look at the season series to date:
Jan. 21 at Boston | Rangers 3, Bruins 2, OT |
Entering the contest, the Rangers held a one-point advantage on the Bruins for first in the East, but many still considered the defending champions the class of the conference. The Rangers proved they were for real, playing even with the Bruins through regulation and getting a Marian Gaborik goal in overtime for the victory.
The Bruins erased a pair of one-goal deficits during the second period with goals from Andrew Ference and Adam McQuaid to answer tallies by Ryan Callahan and Gaborik. In overtime, Ference received a major penalty for boarding defenseman Ryan McDonagh, putting the Rangers on a 4-on-3 power play for the final 3:10.
Gaborik won it with 3.6 seconds left after Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask made two terrific saves on Callahan and Brad Richards.
Feb. 14 at Boston | Rangers 3, Bruins 0 |
This time around, it was the Rangers looking to solidify their stranglehold on the East over the Bruins, who were seven points back. Thanks to a dominant performance by goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers did just that.
Lundqvist made 42 saves -- 32 over the final two periods -- as Callahan, McDonagh and Anisimov provided the offense. The Bruins were spent much of the final 40 minutes in the attacking zone, but Lundqvist was unbeatable.
Dennis Seidenberg appeared to get the Bruins on the board in the third period, but replays showed the puck went through the side of the net. The Rangers left Boston with a nine-point lead in the East.
March 4 at New York | Rangers 4, Bruins 3 |
Much like in the previous meeting, the Bruins were constantly on the attack thanks to a strong puck possession game. But Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas wasn't sharp, allowing four goals on 17 shots.
Ruslan Fedotenko and Carl Hagelin gave the Rangers a quick 2-0 lead in the first period, but the Bruins responded with goals from Benoit Pouliot in the first period and Jordan Caron in the second period off Rangers turnovers.
Gaborik put the Rangers ahead 3-2 early in the third period, but again, the Bruins answered. David Krejci made it 3-3 by finishing a 3-on-2 rush, but 39 seconds later, Derek Stepan snapped a shot over Thomas' catching glove to win it.
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