The plan was to get a goal every five minutes. With the Bruins down by two — having gotten a David Krejci score 8:44 into the third period — they figured that was all they needed to tie the game. And that wasn’t too hard, right?
But the minutes ticked away. There were chances, sure, but nothing was quite getting past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
The Bruins pulled Tuuka Rask with less than two minutes left, still two goals down.
“You’re kind of just hoping,’’ Rask said. There was nothing left for him to do, at least not in regulation.
And then it started. With 91 seconds to go it was Nathan Horton from Milan Lucic and Andrew Ference. With 43 seconds to go it was Brad Marchand from Patrice Bergeron and Dennis Seidenberg.
The score was tied. The crowd at the Garden went nuts.
Having been down by three with just 12 minutes to play against a good Rangers club, the Bruins were headed to overtime, though they eventually lost in a shootout, 4-3.
“It was wild,’’ Marchand said. “The fans were incredible. It just seemed like once we got that first one [by Krejci], we knew we were going to tie it up. We just kept going. It’s always fun having a game like that in our rink.
“It’s too bad we couldn’t finish it off.’’
They did salvage a point in the standings, something that’s even more crucial with the shortened season. And it was all due to a frenzied final few minutes with an extra skater and Rask on the bench.
“It’s incredible to see you score two goals in such a short period of time,’’ Rask said. “They kind of saved my [butt] there. I didn’t deserve the two points today, or one point. I let a couple bad ones in. But definitely as a team we did deserve some points. They got my back.’’
There was a plan for those final minutes, developed with approximately five to go. Rich Peverley would join the top line of Horton-Lucic-Krejci. Gregory Campbell would join the line of Marchand-Bergeron-Tyler Seguin, adding some heft in front of the goal mouth to tip pucks.
It paid off, in both cases.
“We did a good job of getting the puck, first, to the net, which was big on both those goals,’’ Lucic said. “In the first two periods, what we weren’t able to do was find those loose pucks. You look at all three goals, they were all finding loose pucks in front of the net. When we’re committed to doing that, whether it’s six-on-five or five-on-five, that’s when we get rewarded.’’
The team could have been demoralized, giving up an unassisted goal to Anton Stralman just 22 seconds after the end of a power play in the third period, which included some five-on-three time. That could have been it, as it put the Bruins down by three. It wasn’t.
“You’ve got to appreciate the fact that we never gave up, and we came back and tied the game with our goalie pulled on two occasions,’’ coach Claude Julien said. “That’s a positive to take out of it.’’
It was impressive — the play in that third period, the play in that last 10 minutes, the play in those final 91 seconds. The Bruins had pushed the Rangers to overtime for the second time this season after trailing by at least two goals.
So why can’t the Bruins play that way all the time?
“It would be nice to be able to play that way for 60 minutes, but the fact of the matter is it’s just not possible,’’ Marchand said. “You can’t go that hard for that long. But when you do have the momentum and you have spurts like that, you have to take advantage of it.’’
The Bruins did. And it paid off.
“It certainly saved us from having a regulation loss tonight, just that attitude,’’ Julien said, of believing they weren’t done, even down 3-0. “Although we weren’t perfect, didn’t think we were at our best, we still found a way to gain a point in a situation where it looked pretty grim halfway through the third.’’