Marian Gaborik scored his first three goals of the season, including the game-winner in overtime, as the Rangers earned their first victory of the season by defeating the Boston Bruins 4-3 Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Gaborik, who now has 14 career Hat Tricks including five as a member of the Blueshirts, scored on an unassisted breakaway just 27 seconds into overtime to put the Rangers finally in the win column. Gaborik's initial shot was stopped by Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask, but Gaborik batted the rebound out of the air and into the net to send The Garden Faithful into a frenzy with a slew of hats raining down onto the ice.
New York had been just 4:23 away from winning the game in regulation, but Nathan Horton corraled a bouncing puck in the high slot and beat Henrik Lundqvist for his first goal of the season, tying the game 3-3 and setting the stage for wild finish in which both Lundqvist and his Bruins counterpart Rask, made sensational saves to preserve at least one point for their respective clubs.
Buoyed by their star-studded No. 1 line of Brad Richards, Rick Nash, and Gaborik, the Rangers raced to a 2-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game, but the Bruins steadied their ship and had the game tied midway through the second period. However a clutch Taylor Pyatt goal shortly after the Bruins had pulled even put the Rangers back in front 3-2, a lead the Blueshirts carried into the second intermission.
Gaborik opened the scoring 4:36 into the game patiently outwaiting Rask to drop to the ice before roofing his first goal of the season under the crossbar after a simply gorgeous cross-ice pass from Nash. Gaborik then batted the rebound of a Michael Del Zotto right wing shot out of the air and into the back of cage to put the Rangers ahead 2-0 just two minutes later, and Bruins coach Claude Julien used his timeout to settle his club down.
Though the Rangers still came after the Bruins in waves, Boston was able to regain its composure as the first period progressed, helped in part by the home team taking a pair of penalties to stem their own momentum.
A third penalty, this one taken early in the second period by Marc Staal, led to Brad Marchand's power play goal in front just 65 seconds into the middle stanza. Boston surged against the Rangers after that goal, firing six shots on goal before the Blueshirts could manage a single shot against Rask in the period.
Ironically Boston tied the game at 12:24 after the Rangers had seemed to right themselves and had come within inches of scoring themselves. But after Rask made a pair of stops at one end, Milan Lucic scored his second goal of the season from in front to knot the score at 2-2.
However just 46 seconds later the resilient Rangers regained the lead when Pyatt---who had earlier replaced rookie Chris Kreider on the second line---parked himself in front of the Bruins net and converted the rebound of Derek Stepan's shot for his second goal in as many games. That 3-2 score held up into the second intermission after a Carl Hagelin goal was waived off at 16:24 due to a Mike Rupp roughing penalty, and the subsequent outstanding penalty kill highlighted by three Ryan Callahan blocked shots.
The Rangers also failed to add to their lead despite 1:13 worth of a two-man advantage early in the third period. With Aaron Johnson and Adam McQuaid both in the penalty box for Boston the Rangers managed only one shot on goal---a bad angle wrist shot by Callahan---and could not take capitalize on the prime opportunity to pad their lead.
How big a win was this for the Rangers? And what do you think of the Gaborik-Richards-Nash line? Let us know below.