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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Bruins Put Together One of Their Better Wins of the Season: 4-2 Over Rangers

With only eight games left in the regular season, so much can change in a very short span of time. Boston (37-25-13) cruised to a 4-2 victory vs. Rangers (47-20-7) this afternoon at TD Garden thanks to two goals by Milan Lucic. New York came in as the top team in the entire league while Boston had lost six games in a row. Naturally, the B's scored three goals in the first period (for only the 2nd time this season) and led 3-0 after 1 (the 1st time that they've done that in 2014-15).

So while the final result was a foregone conclusion for at least half of the contest, the Bruins had a real scare 10 seconds into the second period as Tuukka Rask (14 saves) quickly left the ice. He went to the dressing room then never returned. Niklas Svedberg (16 saves) came in and late in the third period, Boston's goaltender coach and former NHL veteran Bob Essensa was suited up on the bench as the Bruins' backup.

To our relief, Bruins head coach Claude Julien after the game termed Rask's absence a "dehydration issue." Somewhere David Ortiz shakes his head, knowing the same helpless feeling. Furthermore, Rask was going to travel with the team to Carolina and he could play tomorrow vs. the Hurricanes (5, NESN).

Fortune was on Boston's side from the start (something I've rarely said this up and down season) as Lucic appeared to kick the puck in at 1:41. It was reviewed and surprisingly stood up as a goal, poor Henrik Lundqvist (26 saves)-who was playing in his first game since February 2. Patrice Bergeron (5-game point streak) and David Pastrnak assisted on Lucic's 16th goal of the season.

Lucic scored a more traditional (and legal) goal at 9:26, assisted by Torey Krug and Ryan Spooner. You knew that it was Boston's day when snakebitten Carl Soderberg finished a breakaway with a pretty backhander at 14:27. It was his 12th goal of the season, unassisted after former Bruin Matt Hunwick coughed it up along his own blueline.

Another sign that the Bruins would not lose occurred when Reilly Smith popped in a rebound at 5:53 of the second period for a 4-0 lead. His 13th goal of the season was also his first tally in over a month (Feb. 22 at Chicago) or since he signed that needless two-year extension (thanks Chiarelli). Loui Eriksson and Soderberg assisted on it.

New York avoided the shutout with a notable goal: Rick Nash tapped in a beautiful feed from BC's Chris Kreider. That was Nash's 40th goal of the season, the 2nd most in the NHL and the 3rd time he's done that in his career (1st since 2008-09 with Columbus). Derek Stepan started the play at center ice and was credited with the second assist. Hunwick added a garbage time goal(his 2nd of the season) with a shot from the point when there was just 23 seconds left in regulation.

It is a longshot but Boston has to hope for a Toronto (27-42-6) win tonight vs. Ottawa (37-25-11). As it stands at this moment, the Bruins are two points ahead of the Senators for eighth-place in the Eastern Conference but Ottawa has two games in hand. Andrew Hammond is out with an injury so Craig Andersson gets a rare start, hopefully he is rusty. If Boston finds themselves in the playoffs, they have to hope to draw the Rangers in the first round since today's win improved their record to 7-1-2 in the last 10 games between the Original Six rivals.

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