Derek Stepan’s goal at 12:21 of the third period, a rising snap shot over the glove of Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas, lifted the Rangers to a 4-3 victory over Boston this afternoon. Stepan’s goal came 39 seconds after David Krejci had tied the rollicking game forthe Bruins.
The victory---the fifth in a row against the Bruins---extended the Rangers’ Eastern Conference lead to 12 points over Boston with 18 games to play. It wasn't easy, because the Bruins controlled much of the matinee at Madison Square Garden.
Coach John Tortorella, waving the puck from the bench, was justifiably irate after the referees called a delay of game penalty against defenseman Stu Bickel for clearing the puck over the glass with 6:15 left in the third. But the Rangers killed it off.
Red hot Marian Gaborik provided a 3-2 lead at 3:14 of the third. Seconds after his wrister from the slot off a rush was kicked away by Thomas, Gaborik went to the left post and snared Dennis Sidenberg’s clearing attempt from behind the net, went to his backhand and stuffed the puck in for a 3-2 Rangers lead. It was Gaborik’s fifth goal in six games and 32nd of the year, and helped rescue the Rangers in a game that the Bruins had begin to dominate after an early 2-0 lead by the Blueshirts.
The third of four meetings this season with the defending Stanley Cup champions featured three goals and three bouts in the first period, including a fierce battle between rookie Lane MacDermid, playing his first NHL game, and Mike Rupp just 2:40 after the puck dropped. Brandon Prust then went with Milan Lucic at 7:59 and was pummeled.
The first period resumed after it was suspended with 2:33 left to repair a crack in the glass on the end boards, Brad Marchand almost tied the game when his rising shot went off Lundqvist’s glove, ticked the crossbar and fell off the back of the goaltender’s pad and rolled along the goal line and past the net.
But it didn’t take much longer for the Bruins to square it. Jordan Caron picked off Dan Girardi’s misguided pass into the neutral zone, skated in and used a sliding Girardi as a screen and his slapper from the left circle beat Lundqvist shortside at 1:40 of the second period.
With the score tied at 2----the second consecutive game in which the Rangers had a 2-0 lead and were caught---the Bruins dominated the rest of the period, outshooting the Blueshirts 10-3 and 24-11 overall.
The Rangers had been off to a good start, with Anton Stralman’s shot from the right point at 5:05 beating a screened Thomas, and then just 1:10 later, Carl Hagelin raced down ice to deny an icing, circled the net, and his pass toward Brandon Dubinsky in front banked off Greg Zanon and past Thomas. Benoit Pouliot’s one-timer off a defelected pass by Stralman in the defensive zone beat Lundqvist five-hole.
The Blueshirts had won both games in Boston, 3-2 on Gaborik’s overtime goal on Jan. 21, and a 3-0 victory when Lundqvist stopped 42 shots on Feb. 14. save effort to a 3-0 victory on Feb. 14.