Bruins 3, Rangers 2

Thomas puts stop to rally

Bruins hang on in third, beat Rangers

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By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / November 18, 2010

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NEW YORK — In last night’s 3-2 win over the Rangers, Tim Thomas stopped 15 of 16 shots in the third period, with most of the attempts being the high-quality variety that usually end up in nets. But for all his brilliance, Thomas still felt culpable for a subtle mistake that could have blown up in the Bruins’ faces.

Several seconds after Andrew Ference went to the penalty box for slapping his stick upside Sean Avery’s head at 13:57 of the third, Thomas had an opportunity to freeze the puck. But instead of covering up, Thomas tried to keep the play going by shuttling the puck to Zdeno Chara.

Bad bounce, and the next thing Thomas saw was Chara skating off, punishment for putting the puck over the glass.

“I felt partially responsible for the five-on-three,’’ said Thomas, who had to stare down a two-man advantage of 1:44. “I could have just held the puck for a faceoff. But I tried to give it to Zdeno to ice it down.

“Of course, it bounced funny, so it handcuffed him. It bounced right as he was shooting it, and it went right into the [protective] net. I really wanted to kill that one off for him and for the team.’’

The Rangers, down only a goal at the time, had multiple looks to tie the game during the power play. But the Boston penalty killers, even minus their defensive stud, stood tall, with Thomas’s help, to keep the Rangers off the scoreboard. The Rangers continued to bring the heat, but the Bruins held on for the 3-2 win before 18,200 at Madison Square Garden.

“It was a long five-on-three,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “When our guys didn’t make the big plays, Timmy made the big saves. That’s what you need.’’

The Rangers entered the night with a three-game winning streak that included an 8-2 thumping of Edmonton. Lately, their strength has been on offense. Marian Gaborik and Erik Christensen have had chemistry on one line. Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky, a 1-2 punch of hammer and sandpaper, have been two of the harder forwards to play against.

So it was all those big guns looking to tie the game during the five-on-three. The primary look was the cross-crease, backdoor play, setting up Gaborik or Dubinsky. The Bruins recognized the Rangers’ tendencies, and tightened up their alignment.

“It was about denying what they were trying to do,’’ said Patrice Bergeron. “We could see they were trying to make two plays or three plays that they were trying to establish. We just tried to deny that.

“For myself, on the power play, when we’re trying to make some plays and set up some plays beforehand, we talk about it and try to force it sometimes. That’s why when you’re on the PK, you just try and deny those plays and try to cause some havoc.’’

The Bruins didn’t look like they’d be in an end-of-game dogfight. After Dubinsky scored a power-play goal at 7:10 of the second, the Bruins responded with three straight goals.

Bergeron kicked off the first scoring sequence by forechecking hard on Dan Girardi and forcing a turnover. Nathan Horton, Bergeron’s support man, recovered the cough-up and promptly dished the puck to Milan Lucic, who whistled a shot from the high slot past Henrik Lundqvist at 11:08 of the second.

“Bergy just put his head down and skated and created a lot of pressure,’’ said Lucic. “I just wanted to be in a good position if we did turn the puck over to be a good out for a turnover.’’

The Bruins took a one-goal lead when Tyler Seguin went high glove on Lundqvist at 16:35 of the second. Then Mark Recchi got a gift goal when his wrister from another borough trickled under Lundqvist’s left arm at 1:10 of the third.

“It was just a terrible goal,’’ Lundqvist said. “Obviously, I was hoping for a tie game there on the five-on-three, but Thomas came up big in the end. I think we played great, just a mistake here and there.’’

New York’s third-period rally started when rookie Derek Stepan sealed off a Dennis Seidenberg dump-in. Stepan then went the other way and found Gaborik in front. Thomas thought he got enough of Gaborik’s shot with his blocker. But when he heard the crowd roar at 5:26 of the third, Thomas knew Gaborik had too much behind his shot.

That was all, however, that Thomas was willing to give up.

“He was the difference,’’ said Rangers coach John Tortorella. “We have a chance at the end on the five-on-three and don’t get it done. But he certainly was the difference.’’

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