Bruins wake up, take out hapless Rangers 2-1

Rangers1.jpgThe Boston Bruins failed to wake up for the game against the
Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday, when everyone in the hockey world was
certain they would try and decapitate every player on the other side of
the ice. Three days later, there’s no question they wanted the win more
than the New York Rangers.

A loss today and the Bruins could have
found themselves in a dire situation in the standings, barely holding on
to a one-point lead over the Rangers and Atlanta Thrashers. Failing to
actually show a care factor would prove disastrous, especially as they
face a fanbase that is threatening to boycott a team they feel is not
putting forth a suitable effort from game to game.

It was an
overall sharp effort by the Bruins, who did what needed to be done to
win a low-scoring affair. They didn’t make many mistakes, played hard on
the forecheck and Tuukka Rask was just as good as he’s been all season
long.

With an all-important two points, the Bruins can hold
off the questions — for now. There’s still a long way to go and winning
just one game is far from ensuring a playoff spot. Yet the Bruins find
themselves in much better position than the the New York Rangers are in,
who once again looked disinterested in even competing until about 54
minutes into the game.

The New York Rangers are done. They’ve
given up, and I’ll be incredibly surprised if they find a way into the
playoffs from here. They now sit five points back from the Bruins, with
the Atlanta Thrashers are planted between them and the 8th spot. If they
couldn’t muster a concerted effort in this game, I’m doubtful they’ll
be able to figure it out moving forward.

That isn’t to say the
Rangers were completely dominated, they were just slightly more inept
than the Boston Bruins in this game. The Bruins also showed more fight
and attitude than the Rangers — which gave New York some lengthy time
on the power play — and if not for a number of great saves by Henrik
Lundqvist then the Bruins would have easily had a 2-0 lead headed into
the first intermission.

There isn’t much else to say about this
Rangers team that I haven’t already said this weekend, other than this
is not a team that deserves a playoff berth. We can leave the debate
about the coaching for another day, but this is a team that is lacking in
talent and not even a pretty good game by captain Chris Drury could save
them.

Sean Avery was a non-factor and Marian Gaborik — despite
four shots on goal — was a non-factor. I won’t even get into the
boneheaded play by Vinny Prospal; I’m tired of writing about illegal
hits.

No time to rest for Boston; they will take on the Atlanta
Thrashers on Tuesday in another showdown to hold on to the 8th spot in
the East.

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    Backes scores OT goal on his birthday, Blues even up series with Stars

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    The St. Louis Blues won’t be thrilled with the way they played in the third period, but in the end, they did just enough to come away with a 4-3 overtime win over the Dallas Stars in Game 2. The Blues’ win means that the series will head to St. Louis tied 1-1.

    The Stars opened the scoring in the first period, but the Blues responded by scoring three unanswered goals (Patrik Berglund, Joel Edmundson, Troy Brouwer) on five shots. Stars coach Lindy Ruff had seen enough from starter Kari Lehtonen at that point. He yanked Lehtonen in favor of Antti Niemi at the start of the second period.

    Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the second period, but things got crazy in the third.

    With his team still trailing 3-1, Mattias Janmark split Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko before scoring a great goal.

    Moments after Janmark’s goal, Brian Elliott took a Jason Spezza blast off the mask. Elliott was shaken up on the play (he even lost one of his contact lenses), but he did stay in the game.

    Stars captain Jamie Benn (surprise, surprise) leveled the score by burying a goal by Brian Elliott with under three minutes in regulation.

    Like they did during their first round series against Chicago, the Blues took some time to regroup before finding a way to get the job done.

    The Blues’ power play went back to work after Antoine Roussel took his third penalty of the game. That’s when the birthday boy, David Backes, came through.

    That’s a nice way to celebrate your 32nd birthday.

    Game 3 goes Tuesday night in St. Louis.

     

    Jamie Benn’s late goal sends Game 2 to overtime

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    This definitely wasn’t the way the St. Louis Blues drew it up.

    The Blues entered the third period of Game 2 with a 3-1 lead. Unfortunately for them, they weren’t able to shut the game down on the road.

    St. Louis jumped ahead 3-1 after 20 minutes before Dallas decided to pull Kari Lehtonen in favor of Antti Niemi. The move didn’t provide any results in the middle frame, but something certainly sparked the Stars in the third period.

    Mattias Janmark cut the deficit to 3-2 with this beauty (notice how he split Colton Parayko and Alex Pietrangelo).

    With less than three minutes remaining in regulation, Stars captain Jamie Benn tied it up (top).

    It’s safe to say this wasn’t a memorable third period for the Blues.

    Video: Brian Elliott takes a blast off the mask, stays in the game

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    A bit of a scary moment in the third period of Game 2 between the Stars and Blues.

    Less than five minutes into the third period, Jason Spezza took a shot that caught Blues goalie Brian Elliott square in the mask. Play was halted as Elliott remained down. It appears as though the shot to the mask also made Elliott lose one of his contacts.

    Thankfully, Elliott wasn’t seriously injured on the play. After being examined by the team doctor, he was allowed to stay into the game. He did need a new mask though (he got his original one back a few minutes later).

    You can watch the play by clicking the video at the top of the page.

    The Blues currently lead 3-2 late in the third period.

    Here’s some Twitter reaction:

     

    Lehtonen only lasts one period in Game 2

    Lehtonen
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    Kari Lehtonen might have been more hit than miss in the playoffs going into today’s action, but Game 2 against St. Louis was certainly a start he’d like to forget.

    Dallas outshot St. Louis 10-5 in the first frame, but the Blues still managed to take a 3-1 lead. Antti Niemi replaced Lehtonen for the second period which means, barring another goalie change, Lehtonen will actually end up with a sub-.500 save percentage this afternoon.

    The numbers obviously look bad and it’s hard not to blame Lehtonen in the face of that, but the Blues deserve a lot of the credit for those goals. Patrik Berglund had a great shot on goal for the first marker, Joel Edmundson‘s first career playoff goal came after a nice setup by Troy Brouwer, and when Brouwer collected his own goal it was off of a rebound during a power play.

    So to an extent, you could say Lehtonen looked bad due to circumstances that were very unfavorable to him. Nevertheless, the Stars needed to shake things up after what was unquestionably a bad period for them.