Just before gametime things were looking up for the New York Rangers. The Carolina Hurricanes were down 2-0 to the Devils with five minutes left in their game. David Pastrnak and Hampus Lindholm were out of the lineup for the Bruins. The Rangers win this game and they would be alone in first place. But in a matter of minutes, the Devils blew the lead and lost in overtime and Pastrnak and Lindholm were in the starting lineup. Meanwhile, the Rangers fielded a lineup that included Greg McKegg and Julien Gauthier, both veterans of the healthy scratch. Ugh. What followed was almost predictible.
They lost as Pastrnak scored (of course) and after the Blueshirts pulled to within 2-1 in the third period, the Bruins scored the backbreaking third goal and it was over.
The Bruins had a lot more to play for in this game. They went into the game in a virtual tie with Washington for the top wild card spot. With the second wild card team facing the NHL’s top team, the Florida Panthers in the first round, that was incentive enough for the Bruins to work hard this game.
Gerard Gallant was philosophical about the loss. “It happens. I thought we played okay for the most part. We played a good team Boston with a full lineup, they got their guys back and they were excited and they played well…Overall I’m not disappointed.”
He talked about how tough it is on players like Gauthier and McKegg, not seeing action for long periods.
He was also very realistic about finishing first, saying that they had been watching the Carolina game. “We want to finish first, we want to win very game we play. At the end of the day if we’re first or second, get home ice. It is what it is and we want to try to win as many games as we can.”
The bottom line on this game is they were very competitive, but they were beaten by an energized team and Boston goalie Linus Ullmark was outstanding, better than Igor Shesterkin who was pretty good himself. Ullmark had a lot to prove, coming off an injury and biding for the starting goalie job in the playoffs.
Mika Zibanejad referenced the job that Ullmark did. “I thought we had some pretty good looks We we kept telling each other to keep going. Their goalie played pretty good, made some really good saves. Obviously. they’re a good team by we still managed to create chances so can’t complain about that.”
This was not a game to worry about. The Rangers played a solid first period and pushed hard for the tie in the third. They finished the season with a road record of 25-14-2 which is pretty damned good. It was only the third regulation loss of the season to an Atlantic Division team in 23 games.