(Photo: Alan Sullivan)
The Boston Bruins hosted the New York Rangers on Saturday for a matinee game. The Rangers had been riding the hot glove and stick of goal tender Cam Talbot for a number of weeks to the astonishment of many who expected the Rangers to struggle while Henrik Lundqvist was recovering. However it was announced that Lundqvist was going to start the game for the Rangers.
Had Lundqvist been playing the past eight weeks, then it would probably have been a different story. But like all goalies, he was a little rusty from being out and the Bruins were able to capitalize on that.
The first goal came off of Milan Lucic’s skate and was originally disallowed on the ice as going in as a result of a kicking motion. The referees immediately got in touch with Toronto and everyone waited for the verdict. This was one of the rules that was addressed at the beginning of the season. The ruling was changed to allow any goal scored from a skate when the player was just driving toward the net. The ruling said that there had to be a distinct kicking motion of the skate toward the goal. In Lucic’s case, he was using his skate to block the puck from squirting past him so he could get his stick on it. Instead the puck ricocheted off of his skate and past Lundqvist. After some time, the call on the ice was overturned and the goal was allowed.
Lundqvist, post game, felt that this was a distinct kicking motion and that the goal would be disallowed.
“I was 100 percent sure it was not a goal, so I kind of stayed confident and calm,” Lundqvist told the media. “But when they called it a goal, obviously it kind of set the tone for the first period.”
That goal did offer the Bruins a boost and it was clear that they were feeling the confidence. There was a cohesion of the team that carried through the second period—a period they traditionally struggle through—and into the third. In many ways, this team resembled the Bruins of the previous season.
“Yeah I think if we play the right way, that’s what you see,” Torey Krug said after the game. “Our system is a positive thing for this team and when we’re playing the right way, there are layers and guys are where they’re supposed to be and everybody knows where everyone is. So we’re forced to play good hockey right now so it’s nice to get a result for sure. We’ve got to bottle this up and use it tomorrow.”
The Bruins were able to win the game in regulation and take the two points. And the Toronto Maple Leafs helped out the Bruins by beating the Ottawa Senators in overtime. This put the Bruins up by one point in the playoff standings. Both the Bruins and the Senators were also playing on Sunday.
Going into Sunday’s game there was some question if Tuukka Rask would be playing in net as he left Saturday’s game just after coming onto the ice for the start of the second. Originally listed as dehydration, it turned out that he was diagnosed with a migraine.
“We talked with the doctors and all the symptoms, looked like it was a migraine,” Rask said after Sunday’s game “When you can’t really see, it’s pretty tough for a goalie to stay out there.”
Fortunately for the Bruins, he was able to start the game in Raleigh, where the Bruins were hosted by the Carolina Hurricanes. When it comes to back-to-backs the Bruins often struggle in the second game. However, they came out in the first period showing much the same energy they had the day before. Just 2:21 into the game Ryan Spooner put the Bruins on the board first with a wrister from a pass by David Pastrnak. The other assist came from Adam McQuaid, who was sporting some stitches over his left eye from the butt end of Tanner Glass’ stick at the end of the Rangers game.
The score would continue with the Bruins ahead until just 22 seconds before the horn sounded to end the second period, when Nathan Gerbe tied the game. The teams would continue this way taking the game into overtime, in large part due to the outstanding performance of Rask.
It was looking like this game was going to go to a shoot out—which has not been kind to the Bruins—when Pastrnak got a slap shot past Anton Khudobin to get the Bruins their second win in as many days.
Pastrnak’s positioning during the four-on-four shift was completely open. Carl Soderberg had been able to draw the attention of the two defensemen and Lucic was in the area as well. Pastrnak skated across from the bench side while every one’s attention was on Soderberg, who made a great pass to Pastrnak for his one-timer.
Pastrnak is the youngest player in the NHL this season and he has his moments when he makes mistakes, especially defensively. It is this reason that head coach Claude Julien often sits the eager forward toward the end of a game. However, his hockey sense is top notch and was clear in this play. He just glided to the other side of the rink and was wide open, just waiting. With the space he had, and his impressive shot, it was a great play.
The Bruins took an additional, and much needed, two points from this game. They were once again aided in their standings by the Senators’ opposing team. The Florida Panthers were able to beat the Senators in regulation. As a result, the Bruins now sit in the play off wild card spot with three points between them and the Senators.
The Bruins take on the Panthers this coming Tuesday night, and the Panthers sit just four points behind the Bruins in the standings. The Panthers, a team that was, by many, dismissed as not being a contender this season has proven to be “sneaky good” as forward Shawn Thornton said on the radio Monday morning.
Both teams want the win, so Tuesday’s game should definitely have a playoff feel to it.
Post game interviews: