Following a frigid cold front which plunged New York City temperatures into the teens, the Boston Bruins swept into town to face off against the New York Rangers. Everyone knows this is the type of weather which sends most bears into hibernation until the spring time. However, it was not be easy for the blueshirts to put these Bruins to sleep.
The ice cold Broadway Blues, who had been manhandled in their two opening games, took a 3-2 lead over Boston into the third period on the strength of two Marian Gaborik goals and a go-ahead goal by Taylor Pyatt. This is where the Rangers have been accustomed to leaning on their defense and backstop Henrik Lundqvist to pull out victories.
For over fifteen minutes into the third period the plan went according to schedule. However, when the Bruins Nathan Horton beat Lundqvist through the five hole on a shot from the point, the game was suddenly up for grabs at 3-3.
It was hardly Lundqvist’s fault, since the blueshirts offense failed to capitalize on a five on three power play advantage, where the Bruins came dangerously close to scoring a go-ahead shorthanded goal. The Bruins appeared to have all of the momentum after the big penalty kill.
However, the Rangers top line did not let up as Rick Nash with less than a minute remaining in the third period, maneuvered in front of the B’s net, letting go of a wicked wrist shot which was kicked away by G Tukka Rask. Gaborik swiped at the rebound, but was unable to lift the pick over the outstretched pad of the Boston goaltender. This playoff style game would be destined for overtime.
Less than half a minute into the overtime session, Gaborik took advantage of a Bruins turnover in the Rangers zone by deflecting a mishandled puck and streaking down the ice on a breakaway. Gaborik’s initial shot was stopped by Rusk, however, Gaborik had the presence of mind to swipe the rebound out of mid-air and into the net for the sudden death game winner.
The 4-3 overtime victory was just what the doctor ordered for a Ranger team which has been struggling to find its A-game early in this shortened season. This was the type of offensive production New York had been missing from Gaborik in last season’s playoffs, where he struggled to score just five goals in twenty games.
Once again, Nash looked sharp, as he was skating circles around the Boston defense as if they were frozen in hibernation and creating multiple scoring opportunities. In his first three games, the talented Nash has managed to dispel any questions about his desire to carry the Rangers offense.
Nash’s play has transformed the Rangers offensive unit into a dangerous and explosive outfit. He opens up the ice in the attacking zone and creates opportunities which the team could have only dreamt of last season.
The Rangers are no longer a team which has to play near-perfect defense for them to win. Nor are they a team which has to rely on Lundqvist to wear his superman outfit game in and game out.
If Gaborik continues to fulfill his starring role as he has in the past, the Rangers will still maintain top billing Stanley Cup status well after the freezing winter temperatures in New York City begin warming up.
The Rangers take their show on the road on Thursday against the struggling Flyers, who have lost three straight out of the block, only managing to score three goals in the process.