BOSTON – The New York Rangers finally broke their power-play drought with just 3.6 seconds to spare. Ryan McDonagh wasn’t around to help them celebrate.
After Andrew Ference was ejected for sending McDonagh crashing into the boards in overtime, Marian Gaborik scored a third-try goal and the Rangers beat Boston 3-2 on Saturday in a matchup of the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.
“We don’t care about first place, the division, the conference,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said. “We are just trying to play the right way.”
The Rangers hadn’t scored a power-play goal in seven games—a total of 15 opportunities after going 0-for-2 in regulation on Saturday—and had just one since Christmas. But they earned one during a 4-on-3 advantage after Ference pushed McDonagh into the boards, shoulders- and chest-first, with 3:10 left in overtime.
Ference was given a five-minute major and game misconduct. Both teams said they expect the NHL to review the hit, and a suspension is possible.
“It was one of the most dangerous hits I’ve seen in a while,” Tortorella said. “Nothing needs to be said about what has to be done.”
McDonagh remained on the ice for a few minutes before he skated off with a trainer. The Rangers wouldn’t specify the injury except to say it was to his upper body.
“The five minutes, obviously, didn’t help the team, but on top of that you just hope you didn’t put a guy in a bad spot,” said Ference, who scored for the second consecutive game. “It’s a bad feeling both ways.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien defended his defenceman, saying the hit was more damaging because McDonagh was off-balance.
“Andrew Ference is not a dirty player,” Julien said. “He’s a guy who is trying to support what the league is trying to do as far as preventing injuries.”
Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves for the Rangers. Ryan Callahan also scored for the Rangers, who lead the Eastern Conference with 64 points.
Tuukka Rask stopped 30 shots for the Bruins. It looked as though they might make it to a shootout, but in the closing seconds Rask saved a shot from Callahan and then knocked away a backhander from Brad Richards with his glove.
Gaborik put in the rebound for the game-winner.
“We didn’t generate a lot of scoring chances,” said Gaborik, who also scored in the second period after going seven games without a goal. “It wasn’t the way we want it to be going. But at the end we got the puck at the net and three glorious chances, and the third, we got a goal.”
Although Rask is the backup to reigning Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Tim Thomas, the 24-year-old Finn entered the game as the NHL leader with a 1.61 goals-against average and a .946 save percentage. It was Rask’s first loss in eight games—three of them shutouts—since Dec. 10.
“I think the guys did a great job killing it, but then an unfortunate bounce there and it’s an automatic,” said Rask, who broke his stick in frustration. “I saved it twice, right? He just wacked at it. I think I was on my stomach. Not too good of a chance at it.”
The Rangers took the lead 91 seconds into the second period when Callahan came out of the penalty box, skated across the ice and down the left boards where he took the pass and wristed the puck into the net. Boston tied it on a goal by Ference, who took the puck in the slot, slid it over to his backhand and beat Lundqvist on the glove side.
The Rangers went on top again when Carl Hagelin’s pass deflected off defenceman Dennis Seidenberg and, with the puck still bouncing, Gaborik chipped it into the net. That gave defenceman Dan Girardi his 100th career assist.
With 49 seconds left in the second period, the Bruins won a faceoff in the New York zone and got the puck around to Adam McQuaid. He picked it out of the air, settled it on his stick and shot it in off McDonagh’s leg to tie it 2-2.
Notes: Bruins D Zdeno Chara is a captain in the all-star game, and Lundqvist is an assistant. … Gaborik has two goals and three assists during a four-game point streak. … The Bruins will visit the White House to celebrate their Stanley Cup championship on Monday. … Bruins F Marc Savard, who is expected to miss the entireseason with post-concussion syndrome, was at the game. He has bought a luxury suite for pediatric patients for every home game the rest of the season. … New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft was at the game. … Bruins D Dennis Seidenberg played in his 500th NHL game. … The Bruins are the only NHL team that has yet to allow a short-handed goal this season. … Rask lost his mask on a slap shot in the second period, but he was uninjured.