The Boston Bruins scored twice in the third period to rally and defeat the Rangers 2-1 Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, taking a 3-0 lead in this best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semifinal series. Game Four will be played at The Garden on Thursday night, with the Rangers facing playoff elimination.
Henrik Lundqvist singlehandedly kept the Rangers in the game on Tuesday with a spectatcular effort between the pipes, but he lost sight of a Shawn Thornton shot he had made a save on, and Daniel Paille rattled home the rebound into the back of the net with 3:31 remaining in the third period to give Boston its first lead of the night. Lundqvist stopped Thornton's left wing shot, but the puck rolled up and over his mask, fell behind him by the goal line, and he had no idea where it was. Paille found it first and scored his second goal of the playoffs.
Paille had a goal and an assist in Game Three on Tuesday, while Thornton had two assists, and Tuukka Rask made 23 saves. Lundqvist finished with 32 saves, as the Rangers spent much of the game trapped in their own end of the ice by an effectively methodical Bruins squad.
Trailing 1-0, the Bruins pulled even just 3:10 into the third period on Johnny Boychuk's second goal of the series, and fourth of the post-season. A giveaway by Lundqvist provided the Bruins fourth line extra time in the Rangers zone, and eventually Paille slid a pass to Boychuk on right wing. Boychuk hammered a shot through heavy traffic in front and past Lundqvist, tying the score.
Shortly after Boychuk's goal, Rangers rookie Chris Kreider was felled by a stick to the forehead on an unpenalized follow through on a shot by Tyler Seguin. Kreider was cut and headed off the ice, with a similar fate suffered by teammate Carl Hagelin about six minutes later when he was struck in the lip by an errant puck.
The Rangers also lost the services of steady defenseman Anton Stralman, who did not play a single shift in the third period due to an unspecified injury after absorbing a big hit from Boston's Milan Lucic in the second period. At times three men down, Rangers head coach John Tortorella mixed and matched his line combinations and defensive pairings, desperately trying to hold the Bruins at bay.
Despite being outshot 14-5 in the second period---and outplayed for large chunks of the period---the Rangers scored the first goal of the game in the middle twenty minutes, and thus carried a 1-0 lead into the second intermission. Lundqvist was simply brilliant in stopping all 14 shots he faced in the middle twenty, counting a lunging left pad save on Torey Krug's blast at 10:45 and a lightning-quick glove save on Gregory Campbell's blast off the rush at 11:35 as two of his best saves of the night.
Taylor Pyatt was credited with the game-opening score 3:53 into the second period when he deflected Ryan McDonagh's wrist shot while also screening Rask. McDonagh intercepted Patrice Bergeron's failed clearing attempt, moved a bit to his right just inside the blueline, and then fired his shot while Pyatt set his screen. The puck ticked off Pyatt's stick and landed inside the left post for the big forward's second goal of the post-season.
From that point onward, the Bruins controlled the second period. The Bruins recorded 14 of the next 16 shots on goal with Lundqvist bailing out his teammates time and again. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner also caught one bit of luck when, after a Lundqvist save, Nathan Horton flicked a rebound try off the right post.
Though he faced fewer---nine---shots in the opening period, Lundqvist may have even been better than in the second period. Twice in the first period Lundqvist denied Bruins breakaways by making sensational right-pad saves---the first against Chris Kelly 8:10 into the game, the second on Seguin at 11:17.
The Rangers were 16-0-0 when leading after two periods during the 2013 regular season, and had been 2-0-0 when leading after two in the playoffs, until Tuesday night. It was also the Blueshirts' first loss on home ice during the post-season, dropping their record to 3-1. The loss snapped a nine-game Madison Square Garden winning streak for the Rangers.