Minus Henrik Lundqvist, the New York Rangers put together a solid performance, and came away with a huge 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins. Cam Talbot, who wasn't scheduled to start tonight, was tossed right into the pit after Lundqvist was held out of tonight's game due to ongoing neck issues. Talbot stepped right into the action, and never missed a beat despite sitting almost three weeks without any form of game action.
After having several slow starts over their last couple of games, the Rangers made it a point to come out flying in this one, and jumped right after the Bruins. With several dominating shifts in the opening minutes, the Rangers finally had their opportunity, and cashed in at the 5:50 mark of the first period. Kevin Klein made a great play to step up at the blue line, and Martin St. Louis swooped in to collect the loose puck. Just as he did that, Rick Nash was breaking up ice, and St. Louis hit him with a quick outlet pass to spring in him on a partial breakaway.
Nash not only fought off Adam McQuaid who was chopping at him from behind, but also slipped the puck to his backhand, and tapped the puck around Tuukka Rask. The Rangers continued to work over the Bruins following the opening goal, but about eight minutes later, the momentum took a strong shift in the other direction.
At 13:37, the Boston Bruins found a way to respond as Milan Lucic was left all alone out front, and ripped a hard wrist shot over the shoulder of Cam Talbot. Neither Dan Girardi nor Ryan McDonagh were anywhere close to play, which allowed Lucic to find open ice, and rip a shot without any sort of pressure. After the Bruins tied up the game at 1-1, the momentum continued to shift in their favor, and just 1:52 later, the Bruins took their first lead of the night.
Following a St. Louis turnover in the offensive zone, the Bruins came back up in a 3-on-3 rush, and Loui Eriksson found Patrice Bergeron cutting to the net. Once again, both McDonagh and Girardi gave way too much breathing room to the Bruins, and they made them pay big time. Cam Talbot didn't really have a chance on either of the goals, and was pretty much left out to dry with the Bruins threatening in close.
The second period, though, was much better for the Rangers, and they finally got back to the level they were playing at earlier in the first period. Chris Kreider was once again a dominating force in this game, and helped set up the Rangers eventual tying goal early in the period. It all started with a set play, where Derick Brassard iced the puck after seeing Kreider busting up ice at mach speed.
Kreider was able to beat out the Bruins defenseman, and chipped the puck behind the net to Mats Zuccarello. Kreider eventually worked his way to the far side of the net where Zuccarello hit him with a quick pass, and Kreider dished it right over to Brassard cutting down the middle of the ice. With plenty of time to pick his spot, Brassard ripped a wicked wrist shot over the blocker hand of Rask, and evened up the scoring at 2-2.
Just prior to making it 3-2, the Rangers had a huge penalty kill to kill off Lee Stempniak's offensive zone hooking penalty, and appeared to gain some momentum. Sure enough, just over four minutes later, Derek Stepan put the Rangers up 3-2 on a beautiful chip pass from Rick Nash at the blue line. Stepan was able to break in with a ton of open ice in front of him, and smoked it under Rask's glove to give the Rangers their second lead of the evening.
The third period lacked the scoring, but it definitely didn't lack any action. Right off the bat the Rangers were faced with a huge penalty kill early on in the third period, and killed it off rather convincingly. Fast forwarding past the midway mark of the period, the Rangers had a chance of their own as Dougie Hamilton was whistled down for interfering with Derick Brassard along the boards.
The Rangers had their fair share of looks on the ensuing power play, but Tuukka Rask stood tall in between the pipes for the Bruins. With under two minutes remaining in regulation, the Bruins elected to pull the goalie as they were searching for the tying goal. Despite spending a majority of the closing minutes in their own end, the Rangers shut down the Bruins very well, and kept most of their chances to the outside.
Cam Talbot also stood tall, and kept the Rangers afloat when things started getting a little hectic in their own zone. The Rangers eventually held onto their 3-2 lead, and came away with two huge points to bring them within two points of first place in the Metropolitan Division. The Rangers will also have quite a bit of rest as they don't return to action until Saturday when they visit the Nashville Predators.