Chris Kreider scores in overtime as Rangers beat Bruins to avoid sweep
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Consider it a single step, a crack in the Bruins' veneer, a sense of possibility that wasn't there.
Chris Kreider, moved off the fourth line for the second game, redirected Rick Nash's pass off a rush at 7:03 of overtime as the Rangers rallied to beat the Boston Bruins, 4-3, in Game 4 Thursday night at Madison Square Garden to avoid a sweep in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Henrik Lundqvist made 37 saves and improved to 4-11 in his career in overtime.
Game 5 will be played Saturday in Boston.
"For us to get that win tonight, the pressure is on them now," said Derick Brassard, who had two assists and leads the team with 12 points. "We can go to Boston and win there, come back home and everything is possible. Toronto did it to those guys [pushing Boston to a seventh game in the first round], and that's going to be in the back of their minds for sure."
Down 2-0 in the second period and with a long summer staring the Rangers in the face, Carl Hagelin scored what Lundqvist called "probably the ugliest goal I have ever seen and turned it around for us. Sometimes that's all you need to get us going, get the building going. We kind of lowered our shoulders a bit and started playing our game."
Tuukka Rask's gaffe gave Hagelin and the Rangers a gift. He tumbled backward into the crease as Hagelin's shot tipped Johnny Boychuk's stick, slowed down and trickled past the fallen goaltender at 8:39.
"I took a step to the side in what I think was probably a skate mark," Rask said. "My skate dug in, I lost my balance and the rest is history. It happens to me twice a year in practice, maybe. I've got to be more focused."
The mistake "gave us life," Derek Stepan said. "We are down by a goal going into the third and the talk is just to relax and play. We've kind of got nothing to lose."
Then, skating behind the net, Stepan tied it at 2 when he stole the puck from Zdeno Chara, curled and tucked it in past Rask at 1:15 of the third. But at 8:06, Tyler Seguin put his own rebound past Lundqvist for his first goal of the playoffs to give the Bruins a 3-2 lead.
Then on a power play, Stepan found Brian Boyle -- coming off a horrible Game 3 in which he ripped his own play in postgame interviews -- trailing a rush in the slot at the 10-minute mark, and his wrister beat Rask cleanly inside the post on his stick side. It was only the Rangers' third power-play goal of the postseason in 41 attempts.
Before the game, coach John Tortorella shook up the lineup, benching slumping veteran center Brad Richards, who had helped Tortorella win a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay, and feisty winger Arron Asham, who had two goals in the first round against Washington. Fourth-liners Micheal Haley, who skated in his first career playoff game, and longtime AHL center Kris Newbury replaced them.
After the game, Tortorella passionately defended his decision to bench Richards but would not say if he will be back in the lineup for Game 5.
"I'm playing Brad on the fourth line, playing seven or eight minutes, it's not good for him. But I also feel some other guys have played better, so that's where he is right now in our lineup," Tortorella said. "Don't put words in my mouth. It's not blaming Brad Richards; I've already heard enough of that crap. He's a hell of a hockey player that's having a hell of a time. So I need to make decisions for what I feel is right for the team to win tonight's game."
The Rangers, who are 7-1 in elimination games in the past two seasons, had lost to the Capitals twice in overtime in the first round and fell in OT in the opener of this series in Boston. They had lost 11 of their last 13 overtime playoff games.
"It's a resilient group," Kreider said. "The tone of the dressing room was the same, as positive and upbeat. We're excited to play more hockey."
The winning goal was Kreider's first of the playoffs. He scored five playoff goals last season during the Rangers' run to the conference finals and holds the NHL record for most playoff goals before playing his first NHL regular-season game.
"I was lucky enough to play with Rick," Kreider said. "Just trying to go hard to the net. He's such a talented player. He was able to find my tape, and I tried to put it on net."