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35° Good Morning

The Wrap: Boston stranglers....Bruins 2, NYR 1

                   The noose is a little tighter.                 
                   With their playoff hopes on the ledge, the Rangers had four minutes to pull themselves back from the abyss.
                    Marian Gaborik’s face had been bloodied by the stick blade of Bruin defenseman Zdeno Chara at 8:30 of the second period in a scoreless game here today and the double-minor gave a Rangers an opportunity to keep the post-season flame burning. Instead, the Blueshirts could not muster a shot on goalie Tuukka Rask and had four attempts blocked.  
                    “A key point of the game,” said Rangers captain Chris Drury after the Rangers playoff hopes dimmed to a flicker with a 2-1 loss to the Bruins, their third straight defeat. “Even if you don’t score, you’ve got to get chances, get some momentum out of it. They killed them off and it kind of livened them up a little.”   
                    At 16:13, Daniel Paille was awarded a penalty shot after being wrestled by Artem Anisimov, but Henrik Lundqvist, yet again superb in a losing cause, got his left pad on Paille’s wrister. Just 23 seconds later, Andrew Ference slid a cross-ice pass past several Rangers to Miroslav Satan, posted to the left of Lundqvist, and the veteran scored from one knee to provide the Bruins a 1-0 lead that proved insurmountable. As has been the case all season, when the opponent scores first, the Rangers (31-32-9) rarely rebound. They are 13-25-6 when trailing 1-0.
                “It’s hard,” said coach John Tortorella. “He (Lundqvist) comes up with a big save there and the next shift they score a goal where we have three guys staring at the puck.”   
                 The Rangers dropped five points behind the eighth-place Bruins and fell to tenth place in the East with 10 games to play, and appears more and more likely that the Rangers will miss the playoffs for the first time since the lockout.             
               “The biggest game of the year so far,” said Lundqvist, who made 29 saves, “and we couldn’t match…they were a little more aggressive and they played a little more physical. It just felt like we were waiting a little bit to see what things will happen until we scored our goal. Then you could see our urgency and energy increased a lot.”
                 In the third period, with Lundqvist screened, a high backhander from Dennis Wideman from above the left circle at 10:20 put the lid on it. Michael Del Zotto’s blue-line slap shot went off Milan Lucic’s skate and past Tuukka Rask with 3:04 left to avoid the Rangers sixth shut out in the last 27 games.
                On the power play, 0-for-6 today and a hideous 4-for-30 in the last six games, the Rangers had scant chances.  “We never got anything going,” said Vinny Prospal. “We simply didn’t get in the zone to generate or get position and create something around their net. You just can’t win with one goal.”
                Lundqvist said he didn’t know whether “their PK was great or we really had a tough night getting things going.” Rask said they had the Blueshirts’ number. “We scouted them of course, so we know what they are going to do or what they usually do,” Rask said. “Sometimes we let things slip and let them make the plays they want. Today we didn’t.”
               Without a winning streak and a string of losses by the Bruins and ninth-place Thrashers, the imploding Rangers face a long summer, starting in mid-April.          
                      As if the Rangers’ offensive woes weren’t severe enough, they might be without their second-leading goal scorer for awhile.
                        Ryan Callahan, who had 19 goals, did not play in the third period after a collision on an icing at the end boards with Zdeno Chara late in the second period.
                        Callahan, who had played 14:12, skated off gingerly and trainers appeared to be looking at his leg on the bench after the play. He was not available after the game and coach John Tortorella said he had not spoken to the medical staff about his condition.
                        Sean Avery also was limping badly in the corridor after the game, and said he had been hit by a shot in the second period. But Avery also took plenty of hits from the Bruins.
                         Mark Stuart, who was sent face-first into the boards from behind by Prospal in the first period, a hit that caused a scrum, said Prospal apologized. “He said he turned at the last second and didn’t mean to do it,” said Stuart. “I turned to protect the puck and he hit me. Sometimes it’s hard in that situation when a guy turns really quick to hold back. I just got a little shiner.”
                   Avery and Dan Girardi had assists on Del Zotto’s goal….Lundqvist has been sensational against Boston in his career, with a 1.36 goals against average prior to yesterday’s defeat, only his fourth regulation loss in 19 games. His save on Dan Paille’s penalty shot was his fifth stop in eight career attempts…Erik Christensen, Sean Avery, Artem Ansimov and Brandon Prust had zero shots…The Rangers are now 7-1-1 in matinees…It was the 38th game that the Rangers have allowed 30 or more shots. They are 15-17-6 in those games…Eight of the last nine games in this series have been decided by one goal...Enver Lisin and Aaron Voros were healthy scratches for the fourth straight game.

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