What has long been considered an automatic positive result for the Rangers did not turn out that way Friday afternoon at TD Garden in Boston as the Rangers let a third-period lead slip away in a 3-2 loss to the Bruins. The defeat closes out a 3-2-0 five-game road trip for the Rangers, who now return home to host former coach John Tortorella and his Vancouver Canucks Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
Dating back to the 2009-10 season the Rangers had recorded at least one point in their last 101 games when leading after two periods of play---posting a 95-0-6 record in that span. However on Friday the Rangers led 2-1 after two periods, but Boston's Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara both scored in the third period to snap that streak and drop the visitors to 13-13-0 on the season.
It took Boston only 1:35 in to the third period to forge a tie. Bergeron whipped a shot towards the net where Dan Girardi was battling Brad Marchand by the crease; and after Henrik Lundqvist made the save, the puck caromed off Girardi and back over the Rangers goal line to pull the Bruins even, 2-2.
Boston pressed the attack and Lundqvist was called on to make several big saves, including one to deny Daniel Paille's 2-on-1 left wing snap shot midway through the period. However a Rangers turnover in the defensive zone led directly to a Chara blast from inside the blueline that eluded Lundqvist at 11:05, putting the Bruins in front, 3-2.
The Rangers had a major chance to pull even when the Bruins took a late too many men on the ice penalty. The Rangers, though, failed to even record a shot on goal, and finished the game 0-for-5 on the power play.
This was a typical Ragers-Bruins game, with tight-checking, quality goaltending at both ends, much on-ice animosity, and a close game on the scoreboard. The Rangers secured a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission, and then carried that same on-goal advantage into the third, with Lundqvist stopping 17 of 18 shots through 40 minutes of play.
After Marchand opened the scoring 11:42 into the first period---one-timing a pretty Chara cross ice pass from left wing to right---the Rangers answered right back with a pair of goals of their own in a span of 1 minute 22 seconds.
Nash tied the game at 13:04 by bulling his way into the slot with the puck while carrying a Bruin on his back before beating Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask with a low wrist shot. The goal was vintage Nash for one of the league's elite power forwards; and it was also Nash's third in six games since returning from his long injury absence, and his second in as many games.
The goal was part of an extremely physical afternoon for Nash, who engaged Torey Krug in a post whistle scrum with both players down on the ice 6:06 into the game, and who also drew a hooking penalty on Chara at 15:16 of the first when he powered down the middle of the ice towards Rask's cage with the puck.
The Rangers took their first lead of the game at 14:26 of the opening period when Derick Brassard's perfect pass through the seam of the Bruins defense found a wide-open Ryan McDonagh in stride inside the blueline. McDonagh hammered his sixth goal of the season through a Benoit Pouliot screen in front to put the Rangers ahead 2-1.
Lundqvist continued to make the big save and battle his way through heavy traffic as the Bruins created havoc in front of his crease. On more than one occasion Lundqvist made a save only to look behind him thinking the puck may have slipped through his pads, but time and again he was there with the big stop. He caught a pair of breaks, too, when Chara's deflection hit the post 2:55 into the game and Krug's blast caught iron 8:30 into the second period.
The contest had an angry nasty tone throughout. Though there was only one fight---Brian Boyle dropping the gloves with Chara with 5:03 to play in the second---but a series of post-whistle nastiness, both penalized and not. Boston's Milan Lucic, one of the league's most rugged physical forwards, was on the giving and receiving end all afternoon---including a first period Justin Falk blast that left him sprawled on the ice and his own hard hit which leveled McDonagh.
Falk again was in the Rangers lineup with Michael Del Zotto watching upstairs as a healthy scratch. Rugged winger Derek Dorsett missed his second straight game due to a sore wrist, being scratched after testing the wrist during pre-game warmups. Taylor Pyatt once again took Dorsett's spot on a line with Boyle and Dom Moore.