The Boston Bruins should have taken a harmless hint from the New York Rangers at the 4:10 mark of Wednesday night’s first period. That was when goaltender Tuukka Rask needed to scramble to slam the door on Rick Nash and Marian Gaborik as they crashed the net on a Brad Richards rebound that caught him off guard.
When he did and when video review confirmed there was no evidence to suggest a goal, Gaborik retained zero points on the year to match his team’s shape in the standings. But one of those trends only lived for one more play and 26 more seconds.
The unlearned Bruins let an unsupervised Gaborik, the topmost personification of the perilously wounded Rangers, swoop in and absorb a cross-ice Nash feed, which he roofed over a sprawling Rask at 4:36.
Play did not stop again until Boston iced the puck at 6:14. That freeze brought the Gaborik-Richards-Nash line out for its next shift, at which point the Bruins proved they still had not absorbed the consequences of flimsy coverage.
Gaborik continued to unleash the wave of carbonation that had been stored since the season opener on Saturday, raking in a rebound at 6:49.
Afterward, the Bruins finally did perk up and proceeded to delete 2-0 and 3-2 deficits en route to salvaging a 3-3 regulation tie. But in the resultant overtime, Gaborik made sure they did not entirely escape from their earlier errors, depositing the winner on a partial breakaway.
With the overriding symmetric story set, here is a deeper look at the top takeaways for a mixed evening on Boston’s front. For multiple reasons, they were fortunate to remain technically unbeaten through three games in 2013.
Whether it was in their favor or in their net, the Bruins had many instances of letting an unsavory development unfold on any given play that immediately followed a goal Wednesday night.
As previously mentioned, there were 98 seconds of continuous action after Gaborik’s icebreaker before Boston was whistled for icing.
In the middle frame, Milan Lucic drew a 2-2 knot only to see the Rangers restore their lead via Taylor Pyatt a mere 46 seconds later. When Nathan Horton made it 3-3 in the third with 4:23 to spare, any hope of a climactic burst in momentum amounting to a regulation victory was spilled by Daniel Paille’s tripping infraction with 3:50 left.
Just one more assertive bounce-back or follow-up could have spelled the difference between a final point distribution of 2-0 in the Bruins favor and the 2-1 differential that ultimately went to the Rangers.
In turn, they have picked up three out of four possible points in the standings with two-thirds of this year’s season series already completed.
While it is still early enough for the reigning Vezina Trophy winner to restore his stingier self after these two meetings and a four-goal beating from Pittsburgh on Sunday, Boston has had just enough time to elevate its conviction against a longtime nemesis. (Lundqvist has improved to 20-7-2 in his career against the Spoked-Bs.)
As subpar as their start was, the Bruins can feel all the more emboldened knowing that they nudged their way back into the game. Lundqvist is the chief reason a 2-0 deficit tends to appear insurmountable in this matchup.
On one hand, his team-leading four hits helped to keep the Rangers at bay long enough to spill this game beyond regulation. On the other hand, Adam McQuaid’s two instances of self-imposed absence could have cost Boston its point had New York converted either power play.
With the 2-0 deficit still intact in the waning minutes of the opening frame, McQuaid demonstrated the Bruins’ boiling frustration after blocking a shot released by Brian Boyle even after an offsides whistle. His decision to drop the gloves with Boyle earned both parties a five-minute major and the Boston blueliner an extra two minutes in the bin for roughing.
Again, beating Lundqvist three times in regulation for the second time in less than a week is an accomplishment. But odds are, the Bruins would not have been able to do that in the form of three unanswered goals in the wake of a 3-0 pothole.
Yet, that is the task they would have been facing entering the second period had the Rangers struck again in those psychologically impactful final minutes of the stanza.
Later, when his team was facing a 3-2 deficit early in the closing frame, McQuaid put the Bruins down two men for 73 seconds upon boarding Dan Girardi. It did not amount to any damage this time, but will not be worth the gamble in the future.
Dougie Hamilton recorded a team-high four shots on goal, three of which Lundqvist hauled in for a whistle and one of which came on a Bruins power play.
Hamilton had two other extra-man stabs that did not count toward his SOG collection. One was blocked while the other was tipped home by Brad Marchand to give Boston its first tally of the night and first conversion of the campaign.
Just as vital as killing McQuaid’s late first period penalty was, so too was utilizing the fresh ice early in the second to make Marc Staal pay for his slashing infraction and set a new tone.