Steve Zipay takes you inside the locker room, home and on the road, with the New York Rangers, and also writes about the NHL, off and on the ice.
Bruins edge Rangers 2-1, for NY, Eastern title still a point away
The Bruins were 30-0-0 when leading after two periods; the Rangers were 5-15-1 when trailing after two.
So with Boston leading the Blueshirts 2-1 after 40 minutes, the odds were against the Rangers, who needed a point to secure the Eastern Conference title with three games to play in the regular season.
The score didn’t change and the champagne will stay on ice.
The Rangers, with 107 points, couldn’t take advantage of a 6-4 loss to the Flyers by the Penguins, their closest pursuers with 102 points, that opened the door for the possibility of nailing down the No. 1 seed for the playoffs. The next possible time for that issue to be decided is now Tuesday night, when the Rangers visit the Flyers and the Penguins play in Boston, which clinched the Northeast Division title at 47-28-4 and 98 points.
“We all know what’s at stake, but we’ve still got three games left in the season to continue what we want to do here,” said Brad Richards.
For the Rangers, the No. 1 spot in the East means a first-round battle with the No. 8 seed, which could be Washington, with 88 points, Florida with 91, or Buffalo with 86. Or even the Senators, who with 92, clinched a post-season berth with a 5-1 defeat of the Islanders yesterday, leaving just one spot open in the East.
With the game tied at 1, the winning goal came on a power play and a miscue. At 11:52, on a penalty-kill with Michael Del Zotto in the penalty box for interference, Dan Girardi, Brian Boyle and Ryan McDonagh fumbled with the puck behind the net. Tyler Seguin knocked the puck away from Girardi from behind, and Patrice Bergeron got up from his knees and curled it through Lundqvist for a 2-1 lead.
“With these guys, it’s always a bounce here, a bounce there that gets the victory, and unfortunately I was part of it tonight,” said Girardi. “He (Seguin) just poked it. I’m going to keep making that play, I’m not going to change anything. I thought we did a great job in the third, we outshot them 19-3. It could’ve gone either way.”
The Rangers did strike first.
When Zdeno Chara’s blast from the point hit Jordan Caron’s right ankle and bounced out to the blue line, Marian Gaborik zipped past Chara and beat Tim Thomas for his 40thgoal of the season at 4:33 to provide a 1-0 lead. It was the Slovak sniper's fourth goal in four games against Boston this season. But the Bruins closed ranks and only trailed by one at the end of 20 minutes. In the second, Dennis Seidenberg’s bomb from the right point went by a screened Lundqvist’s glove side at the four-minute mark.
The Rangers, more desperate and physical, almost tied it when Ruslan Fedotenko’s wrister hit the crossbar. Shawn Thornton was whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct at 19:07, but the Rangers couldn’t convert. Thomas stopped them on a 21-second five-on-three as well. Thomas, on a 6-6-1 run coming in, finished with 33 saves.
The Rangers, (50-21-7), who had won all three previous games against Boston, remained seven points behind the franchise record of 112, set by the 1994 Stanley Cup champs. With 107, they also stayed tied with Vancouver for the most points in the NHL.