The Bruins took advantage of a less-than-stellar Henrik Lundqvist and Brad Marchand played the role of OT hero last night at the Garden as the Bs jumped out to a 1-0 series lead thanks to their thrilling 3-2 win over the Rangers.
After a first period of feeling each other out, the teams traded goals in both the second and third periods as each all-world goalie let in at least one goal they’d probably like back. Hank, in particular, struggled with his rebounds and gave the Bruins multiple second chances he typically doesn’t. But thanks to the Bs hitting more pipe than Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, the Rangers were able to stave off the losing goal until 15:40 of overtime.
For most of the third period and OT, the ice was tilted in favor of the Bruins as they outshot the Rags 28-14 during that time, including a 16-5 advantage in OT. Marchand got the winning play into motion when he picked off Derek Brassard’s errant pass in the Bs’ zone and turned up ice. He then executed a 100 foot give-and-go with Patrice Bergeron that started at their own blue line and finished at the Rangers’ goal mouth when he beat Lundqvist with 4:20 left in OT.
All Game 1 wins are big wins but it was imperative that the Bruins came away with a victory in a game in which Lundqvist wasn’t at his best because its hard to imagine he’s going to look the same for Game 2. And for the second game in a row, the Bruins found their OT hero on the Bergeron line. Given the way these two teams are built and their style of play, another two or three OT games in this series wouldn’t shock me. They’ll be back at it Sunday at 3.
A few more buds for your Friday bowl…
*This classic by The Who just might be the new theme song for the Bruins’ defense. Pressed into duty because of injuries to vets Dennis Seidenberg, Wade Redden, and Andrew Ference, the youthful trio of Matt Bartkowski, Torey Krug, and Dougie Hamilton stepped right in and handled their jobs with aplomb. Instead of looking nervous or out of place, the kids played like poised vets. Claude had Hamilton and Krug manning the points on the third period power play where Krug’s slapper tied the game (and gave the defenseman his first career goal) and it was obvious their presence goosed what has been a struggling power play. Though he was a -2, Bartkowski’s puck-handling and skating allowed for smoother breakouts which in turn led to better scoring opportunities. I’m sure the team wants their vets back in the line-up ASAP. But for last night anyways, their peach-fuzzed replacements were not ony up for the job, they provided an offensive element that the team may not have otherwise gotten. And their confidence can only be sky-high right now.
*The silver lining on tough Tuukka goals is that they appear to piss him off so much to the point that he refuses to allow another goal in after one that he wants back. After Stepan’s second period tally appeared to catch him a bit flat-footed, Rask shut the door for the rest of the way. He finished with 33 saves on 35 shots.
*Zdeno Chara was a monster once again last night as the defenseman played more than half the game. His 38:02 of ice time was almost six minutes more than the next guy on either team (Dan Girardi had 32:05). Z had the first goal, assisted on Marchand’s winner, had nine shots on net, (at least) six hits, and was credited with two blocked shots. Oh, and he also mentored half of his D corps throughout the game. That’s why the big man got the Army Ranger jacket after the game.