With a 9-0 record since March 24 in the familiar surroundings of Madison Square Garden, the Rangers rolled into Tuesday’s Game 3 against the Bruins, who lead the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semifinals 2-0, with some degree of confidence.
“We’ve been good at home all year long,” Rangers head coach John Tortorella said today. “Some pucks go in at home, or they don’t go in, in certain situations on the road, who knows why? I think today’s game, it’s a lot different from back in the 70s, where there really was a distinct advantage playing at home. I don’t think there is, but there must be; the records show it.”
In fact, so far in this post-season, home teams are 40-18 and 10-1 in the second round.
“I’m not even looking at this as a series,” Tortorella said after the Rangers staged an optional practice. “I’m looking at this as one game. We just want to win a game and crawl back in it to make it a series. So all the stuff as far as history and what we did last time, we’re not paying attention to it. We made corrections (Monday). We felt we played a pretty good game, it certainly wasn’t a 5-2 game. We want to win a game and we’ll see where we go.”
Bruins head coach Claude Julien was prepared for the highly-charged atmosphere at the Garden, which also will be the scene for Game 4 on Thursday. Game 5, if necessary, will be in Boston at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.
“When you go on the road, you know you have to be better because the home team always has the crowd behind them, and there’s some desperation on the other team,” Julien said. “I think we realize we have to be even better than normal. The lulls that we had in Game 2, some of those in the second period, we just can’t afford to have here.”
There were no changes expected in either lineup for Game 3 of the first playoff series between the two clubs in 40 years.
Henrik Lundqvist, who has a sore left shoulder from landing awkwardly while trying to cover the puck after stopping Daniel Paille’s shot with 4:52 to play on Sunday, started his 24th consecutive game. Tuukka Rask, who is 6-3 with a 2.32 goals-against-average and a .928 save percentage against the Maple Leafs and Rangers, was in the net for the Bruins.
“He’s made the big saves when we needed him to,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien, describing Rask, who has allowed four goals in 135 minutes against the Blueshirts, as “calm and confident and steady.” Lundqvist with a 3.54 GAA “has played well also,” Julien said. “Got to give credit to our team that we’ve been able to score goals on a very good goaltender, but at the same time, give our goaltender credit.”
The Rangers were 0-for-8 on the power play against the Bruins in the two losses in Boston and killed four of five penalties.
David Krejci led the Bruins in post-season scoring with five goals and 16 points, and Zdeno Chara and Milan Lucic have 10 points apiece. Derick Brassard has two goals and 10 points for the Rangers.
Each team survived a seven-game test in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Lundqvist shut out the Washington Capitals in Games 6 and 7, and the Bruins, who were ahead three games to one against Toronto, rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the third period of Game 7 and triumphed in overtime. The winner of the series would face either Pittsburgh or Ottawa in the Eastern Conference Finals.