NEW YORK – The Bruins have fallen. But they can still get up Saturday night and end the series with the Rangers.
With a chance to send the Blue Shirts home for the summer, the Bruins reared their evil Mr. Hyde head Thursday night and turned a 2-0 lead into a 4-3 overtime loss at Madison Square Garden.
The play everyone will be talking about came when Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask payed homage to Jets QB Marc Sanchez and his Thanksgiving butt fumble in the second period. Rask lost his balance setting up for a Carl Hagelin shot, fell to the ice, and watched helplessly as the puck slithered over the goal line to get the Rangers on the board in the second period, cutting the Bruins lead to 2-1.
“I just took a step to the side in what I think there was probably a skate mark or something,’’ said Rask. “My skate dug in it, that’s what it felt like, and then I lost my balance and the rest is history. It happens to me twice a year in practice, maybe. Focus, got to be more focused, I think, but just a tough mistake. It looks pretty bad on TV, I bet.’’
Rask talked about trying – and failing – to recover once he was seated on the ice.
“Just sloppy I think,” Rask explained. “It kind of freezes you, like ‘what the heck happened,’ then you still have a second to decide whether you’re going to try to scramble, put the paddle down or just try to whack it away and I just tried to whack it away and I know it’s just awful.”
Fast forward to sudden death overtime when former Boston College player Chris Kreider notched the game winner with a beautiful tip deflection at 7:03 of sudden death.
“I thought that was the best goal of the night for them,” said Rask. “That was really a good goal on that. Shot first taken, really good tip.”
Bruins defenseman Doug Hamilton was not so quick to credit the Rangers for making a great play on the game-winning goal.
“Right now, for me, that last goal obviously bugging me and that’s a play I have to have and just feel like I kind of let the team down,” a visibly distraught Hamilton said after the game. “Just pretty upset right now.”
Hamilton was reminded that he was not alone in making miscues that ultimately cost the Bruins the sweep.
“I think a little bit sloppy I guess,” Hamilton said regarding the Bruins play in Game 4. “That’s pretty much it.”
Hamilton described what went wrong on the Rangers game winner.
“I had him coming through and I knew exactly what he was going to do,” he said. “Just couldn’t get his stick in time. He just got it right when the puck was coming there, I just couldn’t get his stick … I have to obviously take him away and remove his stick from playing that puck,” Hamilton said. “If I get rid of his stick, the puck goes in the corner and that’s it. That’s the play. Obviously like I said, I’m pretty upset.”
Rask agreed that the Bruins had a hand in giving the game to the Rangers.
“We gave them a couple gifts, obviously,” Rask said. “At the end of the day, that’s what cost us a lot of energy.”
Another miscue took place on the Rangers’ second goal, which came at 1:15 of the third period and tied the score, 2-2. Rask skated behind the net to attempt to control the puck for defenseman Zdeno Chara, but Rask didn’t get back to the crease in a timely manner and the Rangers’ Derek Stepan took the puck from Chara and scored a classic wraparound.
“I wasn’t aware he was right behind me,” Chara said. “I’ve got to make sure I take a look.”
“A breakdown in front of our net,’’ was how Rask described the play.
On the bright side for Boston, Tyler Seguin got untracked when he scored his first goal of the postseason, giving the Bruins a short-lived 3-2 lead at 8:06 of the third period.
“Obviously a little bit of a sigh of relief, and maybe even a confidence booster,” Seguin said. “It was nice to finally get one in. It was a tough game, it was a weird game, you gotta give credit to them. They played a hard game. We knew it would be a tough one to win. I think a lot of the goals were kind of given to them but they went in.”
The Bruins made yet another mental mistake less than one minute after Seguin’s go-ahead goal when they were called for having too many men on the ice (channelling Don Cherry in Montreal). The Rangers capitalized on the penalty and tied the game 3-3 when Brian Boyle’s wrist shot beat Rask cleanly.
“Stupid mistakes cost us the game,’’ Rask said. “It’s a game of mistakes. We’ve just got to learn from them and move forward. Shake it off and move on.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien blamed the sloppy play on execution.
“There’s no panic here,” Julien said. “Had we been outworked and not been there at all, we would be talking differently here. But we didn’t get outworked, and all it was, as a team, we didn’t execute as well as we have been. We have to go back home and play a better game.”
And now the Bruins will be home and hosting the new-life Rangers Saturday at 5:30 p.m. with hopes of ending the series in five games.
If they don’t finish off the Rangers at home, they’ll be back in the world’s most famous arena Monday and the pressure will be squarely on Boston’s back as they’re sure to be reminded of the 2010 up-3-games-to-none slide that saw the Philadelphia Flyers advancing to the next round over Rask and Co.