In one of the most highly-anticipated games of the 2011-12 NHL season so far, the Rangers and Bruins made sure that the games lived up to---and even surpassed---the hype Saturday afternoon at the TD Garden.
And in the end the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers edged the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins 3-2 on Marian Gaborik's second goal of the contest, with 3.6 seconds left to play in overtime. As a result, the Rangers now lead the Bruins by two points (64-62) for the top spot in the East.
Gaborik's game-winner came off a wild scramble after Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask made a pair of sensational glove saves on Ryan Callahan and Brad Richards with the clock winding down towards zero. With Rask down on the ice Gaborik swatted one final rebound past the Boston goalie for his second overtime game-winning goal this season.
The winning score came during a five-minute major power play which was awarded to the Rangers when Boston's Andrew Ferrence hammered New York's Ryan McDonagh into the boards behind the Blueshirts' net without any intent of trying to play the loose puck 1:50 into the extra session. As McDonagh crumpled to the ice, where he remained for several minutes, Ferrence was assessed a five-minute boarding major and a game misconduct. McDonagh eventually left the ice hunched over, assisted by team trainer Jim Ramsay, and headed straight to the locker room with an unspecified injury.
After a scoreless first period, the Rangers and Bruins traded a pair of goals each in the second, before playing an intense yet scoreless third stanza. Ryan Callahan opened the scoring 1:31 into the second when, after emerging from the penalty box, he accepted a Brandon Prust pass, flew up left wing, and whistled his 16th goal past Rask on the shorst side. However less than two minutes later, at 3:28, Boston tied the game when Ferrence finished off a neat passing play in front.
The Rangers regained their one-goal advantage at 14:30 of the second period when Carl Hagelin's pass deflected off dennis Seidenberg and right to Gaborik, who wasted no time in blasting a shot past Rask. yet again Boston came back when, with 49 seconds left in the middle period, Adam McQuaid's screened shot beat Henrik Lundqvist to tie the game 2-2.
Lundqvist finished with 32 saves, while Rask made 30. The Rangers fired five shots at Rask in overtime, finishing it off with gaborik;s 25th goal of the season.
The contest marked the 15th time in the last 18 meetings between these two Original Six teams that the final score was decided by one goal.