In order for the New York Rangers to extend their season into Memorial Day weekend, two things had to happen against the Boston Bruins in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at Madison Square Garden.
Down 0-3 and on the brink of elimination, the Rangers needed to show some life on their power play, and they needed Henrik Lundqvist to come up big in goal.
Both happened Thursday night with the Rangers scoring once on the power play and Lundqvist making 37 saves as New York beat the Boston Bruins in overtime, 4-3. With the win, the Rangers, seeded sixth in the East, will now travel to Boston for a 5:30 contest tomorrow in Game 5 of the series against the Bruins, the No. 4 seed.
There are many reasons why the Rangers fell behind 0-3 and why their season could come to an end tomorrow.
First, the Bruins are bigger, faster, deeper, and, quite frankly, better than the Rangers. That was on display throughout the first three games of this series, and for a period and a half last night, before a fluke goal injected some life into this Rangers team and the Garden crowd.
As much as this game will be remembered for Chris Kreider’s goal 7:03 into overtime, the result of a great pass from Rick Nash, it was Carl Hagelin’s goal 8:39 into the second period, which slowly slid past Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask, that got the Rangers on the board and provided some hope that they could extend this series.
After Boston scored twice on the power play in the second period, the Rangers found themselves down by two goals. Hagelin’s goal cut it to one and then Derek Stepan tied the game 1:15 into the third period after forcing a turnover behind the net and scoring on a wrap-around goal.
The Rangers would add another, down 3-2 in the third, when Brian Boyle scored on a power play with 10 minutes remaining. It was the first power play goal of the series for the Rangers, who have scored just three times in 41 chances on the power play this postseason.
That Lundqvist made save after save and kept the Rangers alive is old news by now. He’s been doing that for a long time. That the Rangers finally scored on the power play should be front page news. That Brad Richards was a healthy scratch makes for good tabloid fodder.
That the Rangers won is the headline.
Charles Costello has followed the New York Rangers since the 1980s. He was a beat reporter assigned to cover the team during the 1997-98 season.