The New York Rangers came out with an inspired performance Thursday night, grabbing a 4-3 OT win in Game 4 over the Boston Bruins to extend the second-round series and avoid a sweep at the hands of their longtime rivals.
Chris Krieder's overtime goal off a pass from Rick Nash was the decider. He beat Dougie Hamilton to the net and sent the tap shot over the right shoulder of Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, who allowed four goals to his 32 saves in the loss.
Put it on the board: There will be a Game 5 Saturday in Boston.
GOAL: Series continues. Rangers win. Rick Nash on a rush, tipped home by Chris Kreider. Final is 4-3 Rangers. Bruins lead series 3-1.— Jesse Spector (@jessespector) May 24, 2013
And if you agree with this ESPN tweet from the middle of the third period, there likely isn't anyone other than Boston fans disagreeing with the notion that Game 5 was necessary after the fast-paced, back-and-forth action between the two clubs:
This Bruins - Rangers game is what playoff hockey is all about.— ESPN (@espn) May 24, 2013
If you tuned out after the first period, you probably weren't alone. The Rangers came out sluggish and the Bruins missed several chances to score. The result was a 0-0 game heading into the first intermission.
But as MSG broadcaster Stan Fischler mentioned, it ain't over till it's over:
Boy, was he right.
Boston stormed out of the gate in the second period. The Bruins looked like the more motivated team, and wouldn't you know it...Boston scored on the power play, as Nathan Horton took the rebound on the left back line and five-holed Ranger goalie Henrik Lundqvist at the 4:39 mark of the period:
Horton scores! power-play goal for the 1-0 lead 4:39 into the second. 18 puts home the rebound for his 5th of the playoffs ^CS— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) May 24, 2013
Boston added another just a few minutes later, as defenseman Torey Krug added another goal to take the air out of Madison Square Garden:
Torey Krug scores another PP goal for Boston at 7:41 and #NYR trail 2-0— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) May 24, 2013
With the Bruins up 2-0 in the second, it looked like New York finally was ready to cave and coast these playoffs away. Then, out of nowhere, a Tuukka Rask slip of the skates turned into New York's saving grace.
As this hockey fan shows you, it was hardly a thing of beauty. Carl Hagelin got his third postseason goal on one of the weakest shots of his career, and hockey fans everywhere, including Buffalo Bruins star Steve Ott, were left to wonder what happened:
Rask's fall from grace allowed the MSG crowd to get back into the game and officially woke up the Rangers, who remembered that this is the postseason and that a loss means the end of their season.
Derek Stepan out-hustled Zdeno Chara on a routine puck in the Boston end for the wrap-around goal and the 2-2 equalizer.
CSNNE's Joe Haggerty described the play perfectly:
Zdeno Chara lollygagging around net. Derek Stepan takes puck away & wraps it into goal. Tuukka Rask fell asleep as well. Bad #BruinsTalk— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) May 24, 2013
But the Bruins weren't done yet.
Tyler Seguin added a goal on a beautiful assist from Hamilton and Chara, and the Bruins again looked poised to find a way to close this game and series out. It was not to be, however, as New York mounted a late push on the weakest part of its game in this series—the power play.
Boston had too many men on the ice during a line shift just under nine minutes into the period, leading to a power-play chance for the Rangers with the season on the line. Easily the most laughable part of New York's postseason experience this year, center Brian Boyle decided to give the Rangers the chance to stretch this series to at least five games.
Boyle snuck through the crease and got his third goal of the playoffs in the process, knotting the score at 3-3 and giving the Rangers a chance to close the game out in regulation, too. After 10 more minutes of futility, regulation would end in a draw and it would move to overtime.
As the NHL posted on Twitter, this was the kind of game that turns friends into enemies:
Both teams attacked the net with fury in OT. The Bruins and Rangers both had seven shots in just under eight minutes of action. Both goalies sent away great chances through the first few minutes, but it was New York who managed to get a run and beat Rask for the game-winner and the series-extending goal when it was all said and done.
Lundqvist was the hero yet again for New York, finally getting some goal support to back his elite-goalie status. He allowed three goals himself, but finished with 40 saves, 19 of which came after the Bruins already had their first two goals on the board.
The decision to sit Brad Richards also paid off for the Rangers. John Tortorella made him a healthy scratch, and after the first win of the series, it would be surprising to see him again in a Ranger uniform in this second-round matchup.
As the series shifts back to Boston, look for the Bruins to once again try to curb New York's power-play opportunities. The Rangers kept blowing the man advantage through the first part of Game 4, but got one that ended up being the difference in a game that could come back to bite the Bruins.
Boston still has a two-up advantage in the series, but the underdog still has nothing left to lose. Game 5 is set for Saturday in Boston.
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