Bruins take a hit
Physical Rangers rough them up
Within 27 seconds, the Rangers had scored twice. Johnny Boychuk had his hand slashed by Brandon Dubinsky so hard periods two and three were out of the question. Gregory Campbell heard bells after Dan Girardi whistled a puck off the side of his head.
No, it was certainly not the first period the Bruins were hoping for.
“I didn’t think we had a real good start to the game,’’ coach Claude Julien said after last night’s 3-2 loss to the Rangers before 17,565 at TD Garden. “They had a couple lucky goals. But those lucky goals probably wouldn’t have happened if we’d had a better start. I just felt that we were a little slow out of the gate. Second to the puck. Because of that, we dug ourselves a hole. It’s unfortunate because we seemed to get a little better after that. But it’s never easy to dig yourself out of a hole in this league. They play so tight defensively. They didn’t give us much around their net. It wasn’t easy to get some goals past a pretty good goaltender.’’
The first-period woes started with Dennis Seidenberg sent off for tripping at 11:20. On the following power play, Brandon Dubinsky put a shot on goal. Tuukka Rask, making his first start since the season-opening 5-2 loss 14 days earlier, got a piece of his shot. But when the rebound popped into the air, Artem Anisimov swatted the puck with a backhand swipe and deposited it behind Rask at 11:35. Video replay confirmed he hadn’t raised his stick above the crossbar.
Twenty-seven seconds later, a puck that took more funny bounces than a ball at a miniature golf course ended up behind Rask. First, Alex Frolov took a shot that bounced off Seidenberg. The puck popped into the air, where Mark Stuart tried to bat it out of harm’s way. But the puck skimmed off Stuart’s right glove, tumbled over Rask, and landed in the net at 12:01.
“You haven’t played in two weeks, then that happens, you’re like, holy [expletive],’’ said Rask (27 saves). “But you can’t start thinking about it in case of the next one. You’ve got to keep the game tight and get the next one.’’
If Rask was cursing after the second goal, those words were flying around Julien’s head after Boychuk’s hand — no word on which one — was considered too injured for him to continue. Boychuk (11 shifts, 7:28 of ice time), who’s been paired with Zdeno Chara, has been a rock-solid No. 2, helping to keep Alex Ovechkin off the scoresheet in the two previous games. Julien said more information about Boychuk’s injury could be available today after further testing.
An already upside-down first period — Stuart threw down with Sean Avery, Milan Lucic dropped the gloves with Brandon Prust (the left wing took an accidental finger in the left eye) — tilted the Bruins’ way when Michal Roszival was sent off for holding at 18:34. Five seconds later, Marc Staal was nabbed for slashing Tyler Seguin. On the following five-on-three power play, with 4.3 seconds remaining in the period, Chara stepped into a shot. Patrice Bergeron set a screen on Henrik Lundqvist, and Chara’s slapper rocketed past the New York goalie to trim the Rangers’ lead to 2-1.
But early in the second, Staal emerged from the penalty box to score the winning goal. At the tail end of the power play, Mark Recchi couldn’t hold the puck at the offensive blue line. Staal scooped up the puck, attacked Rask, and beat the netminder with a backhand breakaway at 0:48 of the second.
“I picked it up and I didn’t know how close Chara was to me,’’ Staal said. “So I just tried to get away as fast as I could with the old trusty backhand. I don’t get breakaways all that often. I used it in juniors every now and then in the shootouts and it’s worked, so that’s what I went to.’’
Midway through the second, Seidenberg held the offensive blue line and shoveled the puck into the right corner before absorbing a hit. Before hunting the puck down, David Krejci glanced over his shoulder and read that Nathan Horton would be open in the slot. Once he settled the puck, Krejci threw a no-look between-the-legs pass to Horton. The right wing rewarded Krejci for his clever dish by snapping the puck past Lundqvist (35 saves) at 12:27. Horton (5-4—9) has recorded a point in each of his six games as a Bruin.
“He’s really good,’’ Chara said. “Obviously he’s a very strong shooter. He’s a sniper that can score from almost any position. So far, he’s done a good job for us putting the puck in the net.’’
Horton and friends, however, didn’t have enough offensive juice in the third for the equalizer. But after slow starts, game-tying goals against elite netminders don’t usually happen.
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.