After 99 straight wins when entering the third period with a lead, the New York Rangers fell short of 100 and coughed up Game 3, and perhaps the series. Stellar work in the third period by the line of Daniel Paille, Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell powered the Bruins to comeback win that puts Boston up 3-0 in their best of seven series.
Once again, the Rangers fell back on their tried and true formula at home of mucking the game down to a sodden mess. The Bruins were more than happy to comply. There was one goal in the first 40 minutes off a screened wrister from Ryan McDonagh that went in off the stick of former Sabre Taylor Pyatt. Another seeing-eye wrister tied the game in third from Johnny Boychuk before Daniel Paille scored the only somewhat interesting goal of the game after the puck had danced around the goal line seconds before being batted in.
New York wanted this mess to work, and it nearly did. Once they got a 1-0 lead though, the Rangers only put up 10 more shots in the entire game. Sitting back and watching your opponent for the last 36 minutes of a hockey game with a 1-0 lead usually isn’t a recipe for success. What happened to Rick Nash? Or, worse, Brad Richards? The guy spent the third period on the bench two years after signing a nine year deal with the Rangers. They have offensive talent and still they refuse to play anything but a shell system. How can anyone feel bad for this team when it’s so clearly lacking an identity at this point? Play to win, not to scrape by. In a way, it’s good for hockey fans who like seeing actual goals scored and offense executed when teams like the Rangers learn their lesson about boat hockey. Maybe play to score goals once in a while and you actually will do just that. Fortunately for the Rangers, they’ll have plenty of time to contemplate their stroke soon enough on the golf course.
Meanwhile, the Bruins showed that they can play that slow game as well (as if we didn’t already know that). They showed great patience and resiliency in weathering the first period storm from the Rangers and slowly taking over the game even after the Rangers took the lead. The Bruins outshot the Rangers 14-5 in the second period, and allowed only two shots in the last 16 minutes of that frame. The Rangers appear to be out of answers for a team that’s beaten them in just about every way. What stands out is how quick the Bruins forwards are turning the play for odd-man rushes. This is something the Rangers pride themselves on not giving up, and while Henrik Lundqvist has been there to bail them out plenty of times, it’s a disturbing trend for a team that plays such die-hard defense. This goes back to their lack of an identity. At least last season the Rangers were good at shutdown hockey. This year their lack of depth along the blue line is killing them and wearing down their forwards, who constantly have to sit back on their own faceoff dots and fend off the pesky Bruins forwards. This simply does not work in the NHL playoffs. The Rangers will need to find out what does work in a hurry.
Three Stars of Game Three:
Henrik Lundqvist – I’ve been hard on Hank this playoffs, but he was great in this game. He turned back 32 of 34 shots and made some big saves early, including a great breakaway stop on Tyler Seguin, that helped keep the Rangers in the game as long as possible. That second goal was especially tough for Henrik. A close look at the replay shows the puck might have even gone in off a Ranger, though the credit still goes to Paille. Somehow, he’ll have to be even better in Game 4 to keep the Rangers alive.
Tuukka Rask – Another big game by Tuukka. The Rangers came out strong in the first and he weathered the storm. He also made some nice saves in the third period. This kid is etching a seat as the starting goalie for this team for a long time with the way he’s played so far in the playoffs.
Daniel Paille – Another former Sabre having a big impact in the playoffs, Paille has been a horse all spring. He’s a ball of energy and effort on skates. It’s been fun to watch and reminisce when he dings the post on a breakaway in an earlier game but somehow does a spinning backhand slash to score a game winner here. There are goal scorer’s goals and then there are third line Danny Paille goals. Both are entertaining in their own rights.
Cory Buck is an NHL writer for Sabre Noise. You can like Sabre Noise and Cory on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @TheBuckMopsHere for more NHL takes.