BOSTON, MA – Heading into their second round match-up with the New York Rangers, the Bruins knew getting the puck to the net would be no easy task. The Rangers — who blocked a first-round high 161 shots — constantly find their way into shooting lanes and prevent the opposition from getting the puck to the goal.
But in Thursday night’s Game One, the Bruins did not let blocked shots or high quality goaltending deter them from the game plan, as a persistent Boston attack put away New York in a 3-2 overtime tilt.
“I think we’re expecting that from them, so we’re trying to find ways to get around their shot block, and they’re doing a good job of that usually,” said Patrick Bergeron. “So we’re expecting it so now we’re trying to bounce on their rebounds if they do block the first one, and I thought we did a good job finding the pucks tonight and I think that was the result that we were able to get the puck through.”
At times, the play looked more like a battlefield than a hockey game, with white Rangers sweaters sprawled out all over the ice. The Rangers blocked 29 Bruins shots, while the B’s still managed to get 48 on net.
All it took was patience, and at times, heady work and some vision.
With Boston trailing, 2-1, in the third period, and on the power play, it was the quick skating and thinking of the B’s blue line that provided the equalizer. With the puck at the point, but no shooting-lane in sight, Dougie Hamilton whisked a pass over to Torey Krug. Playing in his first career postseason game, Krug walked the puck into the circle, and fired it under the arm of Henrik Lundqvist to knot the game at two.
“I’m very comfortable with the group of guys in here,” said Krug. “I’m comfortable in a sense that they were giving me the puck all night and they weren’t nervous in that regard, so it was very exciting to get out there.”
After Krug’s goal, the Bruins began to carry the play. On a power play just over two minutes into the overtime, Boston mustered eight shots of goal, but could not put one past Lundqvist.
There were many opportunities for the Bruins to grow frustrated on Thursday night, but the team’s stick-to-itiveness and character kept them on track, all the way to a victory.
“We spent the whole two minutes in their end, and had some great chances, but Lundqvist made some big saves at the right time,” said B’s Head Coach Claude Julien of the power play opportunity in overtime.
“Again, they made some good shot blocks, as they normally do killing penalties, but I thought our guys just continued to move the puck around, and we had some great chances.
“I didn’t think it was a negative thing; if anything, it was just about, ‘let’s stay with it here, and find a way to get that goal.’”
While it took 16 shots on goal in the overtime, and others that didn’t quite make it to the blue paint, the Bruins eventually did manage to find the elusive winner.
CRACKING THE KING
When Zdeno Chara’s knuckling point shot crept through the equipment of Lundqvist midway through the second period, it ended a 152-minute scoreless streak for New York’s netminder.
Lundqvist became just the fourth goalie all-time to record shutouts in both a Game Six and Seven of a series after his first round efforts against Washington, and the Bruins knew getting pucks past the reigning Vezina Trophy winner would be a challenge.
“He’s a great goalie, we all know that,” said Patrice Bergeron. “So he’s going to make the stops if he sees it, so we try to have some traffic there in front and try to get some rebounds, but we can still to do a better job at that.
“We still hit a couple of posts there that there were some good shots so we had some good looks, but we had to keep that going.”
Through stretches of overtime, it appeared as if nothing would get past Lundqvist, who continued to deny quality scoring chance after quality scoring chance.
“He’s a competitor,” said Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella of his goalie, who stopped 15 shots during the extra session.
But as the Bruins have preached throughout the playoffs, with net-front traffic and being active around crease, the scoring chances, and goals, will come.
On the overtime winner, it was a net-drive by Brad Marchand — with his stick on the ice — who was able to tick the puck home past Lundqvist and seal the victory for Boston.
“I was able to get a little bit of space, [Bergeron] made a great pass, and I just put it in the open net,” said Marchand.