Sunday, April 1, 2012
By Beating The Rangers (Finally), The Bruins Win The Northeast Division & Secure No. 2 Seed In East
Within reason, it is hard to ask for much more than what the Boston Bruins accomplished tonight at Madison Square Garden.
The B's (47-28-4) not only found a way to finally beat the Rangers (50-22-7) 2-1, for the first time in four tries, but they also locked up the Northeast Division snagged the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.
All in all it was a great night as Boston picked up one of their most meaningful wins of the season, on the road no less.
Did I mention that Tim Thomas (33 saves; 34-19-1) is playing his best hockey since December? He's allowed two goals or less in seven straight games so it shouldn't come as a shock that Boston has found its way out of the muck in that same time frame.
Thomas held the fort in the third, protecting a 2-1 lead as the Rangers bombarded the Bruins in shots (19-3 advantage) but couldn't tie it up.
The Bruins have won five out of six and gained points in each contest. After losing the first three times this season to the Rangers (once in a shootout), Boston proved to themselves and the rest of the NHL that the East still goes through them even if New York has the top seed and the best record.
Adam McQuaid (eye) and Gregory Campbell (lower body) were scratched but that just paved the way for Dennis Seidenberg and Daniel Paille to return from brief hiatuses.
Marian Gaborik (40th of the season) walked in on a strange breakaway and scored 4:33 into this one. It all started when Zdeno Chara's shot bounced off of teammate Jordan Caron. The carom went to Gaborik and nobody could catch him.
Boston rallied with a pair of goals in the second as they solved Henrik Lundqvist (19 saves) just enough. Seidenberg's (5th of the season) slap shot tied it at 4:00 on assists from Chara and Brad Marchand.
Patrice Bergeron (22nd of the season) scored the game-winner on a power-play goal at 11:52 that was classic Bergeron and the stuff of Seilke (defensive forward) award winners. After getting stripped of the puck behind New York's net, Bergeron got it back and wrapped it around the post before Lundqvist could react fast enough. Tyler Seguin had the assist.
Thankfully this is the last week of the regular season. Boston hosts Pittsburgh on Tuesday before heading to Ottawa on Thursday then wrapping things up at the Garden on Saturday vs. Buffalo. Since they've lost their last two meetings with the Penguins, it would be nice to see the Bruins knock off one of the Eastern Conference's (and NHL's) best.
Thomas has earned more of a break and he'll probably only play once this week, against the Senators, with Marty Turco getting two more starts before he's ineligible for the playoffs. Might as well get full use out of him.