BOSTON – The Bruins know a huge deficit can disappear quickly. They overcame one to reach the second round of the playoffs.
So they weren’t about to ease up when they had a big lead of their own on Sunday.
Boston went ahead by two goals in the first minute of the third period, added another 12 minutes later and beat the New York Rangers 5-2 to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals.
Just six days earlier, the Bruins became the first team to win a Game 7 after trailing by three goals in the third period. They started their comeback with less than 11 minutes left and extended their season with a 5-4 overtime win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“Guys are really trying to stay focused on doing their job in the third period,” Brad Marchand said. “We know how important they are, especially after what we went through being down by a few goals. We know that it’s possible for any team to come back from any score.”
Marchand made it 4-2 with just 26 seconds gone in the third period, Milan Lucic scored at 12:39 and the Bruins worked hard the rest of the way.
“We talked about it before we went out there in the third period, and we just had to make sure that we played to win,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “I don’t like our team when we play on our heels and we’re just trying to protect a one-goal lead. We’ve got to extend the lead and extend it even more before we even think about protecting it.”
Game 3 is Tuesday night in New York.
The Rangers never led Sunday, although they tied the game quickly after each of the Bruins’ first two goals.
The second period may have been New York’s best of the series even though Johnny Boychuk’s tie-breaking goal on a 40-foot shot at 12:08 of the period got past goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who was screened by several players.
“We played a really good second,” New York’s Dan Girardi said. “The first shift of the third killed us.”
That’s when Marchand made it 4-2 with a goal similar to the one that gave the Bruins a 3-2 overtime win in the opener.
Patrice Bergeron carried the puck in deep along the right side and passed across the crease to Marchand, who had beaten Girardi and tipped it in.
“I have to be ready to defend that pass there,” Girardi said. “They didn’t have much room, but, obviously, I have to be either on the strong side blocking that or on Marchand’s stick. That really put us behind the eight-ball.”
With a two-goal lead, the Bruins remained aggressive but still clogged the middle in front of goalie Tuukka Rask when the Rangers attacked.
“We felt really good going into the third, and to have that type of goal go in—it’s just two-on-two—it hurts you,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said. “We couldn’t generate anything, and then they’re just going to fill the middle and they’re just going to jam you.”
Boston never trailed as rookie Torey Krug scored the first goal at 5:28 of the first period before Rangers captain Ryan Callahan tied it less than three minutes later. Gregory Campbell made it 2-1 at 2:24 of the second period, and New York pulled even again 56 seconds later on Rick Nash’s goal, his first of the playoffs after he led the Rangers with 21 in the regular season.
“We didn’t play our best,” Marchand said. “I think, especially in the second period, they took it to us, but we were able to bounce back. It’s definitely a very even series.”
Not when it comes to goaltending.
Lundqvist allowed more than five goals for the first time in 152 games, including the post-season, and stopped 27 shots.
“I thought I was in position, but (there were) a couple screens and when you give up five goals you can’t be satisfied,” he said.
There’s also the matter of his left shoulder that was hit by Daniel Paille’s third-period shot. Lundqvist rubbed it after the game and said, “We’ll take a look at it.”
Rask saved 35 of 37 shots.
Still, Lundqvist won the Vezina Trophy last year and is a finalist for it this year.
“I know that I can’t let in any lead goals most nights because he is who he is,” Rask said, “but, then again it’s a team game and we’re more focused on the Rangers than any individual.”
These are the Rangers who also lost the first two games of their opening series on the road, then won the next two at home. They lost Game 5 in Washington but won the last two games behind shutouts by Lundqvist.
“We’ve done it before,” he said, “but I think we are playing a better team now so it’s going to be tough to do it.”
Ahead or behind, home or away, the Bruins plan to play with the same determination the entire game.
“You can’t take anything for granted,” Boychuk said. “It’s playoffs. Anything can happen, and sometimes a team can play better in front of their hometown.”
NOTES: The last time Lundqvist allowed more than four goals was March 9, 2011, in a 5-2 loss to Anaheim. In the next 151 games he allowed four goals just 13 times. … The Bruins played their second straight game without injured veteran defencemen Andrew Ference, Dennis Seidenberg and Wade Redden … A defenceman got a goal or an assist on each of Boston’s goals. … The margin of victory was more than two for just the second time in 26 games between the teams. … In their nine playoff games, the Rangers have scored on two of 35 power plays. They’re 0 for 7 against the Bruins.