BOSTON – Watching his team play its third straight overtime game, Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien decided to try something different.
Julien called on all-star defenceman Zdeno Chara in the shootout, and the Bruins captain fired a slap shot past Henrik Lundqvist to give Boston a 4-3 come-from-behind win over the New York Rangers on Saturday.
“Once in a while you just have to change up the routine and throw some guys out there that don’t get to go so often in a shootout and I guess in this case, it worked,” Chara said. “I just tried to keep it simple and go for the shot.”
After Chuck Kobasew was stopped and Phil Kessel scored, Chara had the chance to secure the Bruins’ win in the start of a home-and-home series with the Rangers.
“I think he’s 2-for-2 in shootouts,” Julien said. “We do these drills in practice and he does pretty well. … I think everyone in the building knew what he was going to do and he still got the job done.”
Tim Thomas was perfect on both Rangers shootout attempts. Kobasew had two goals in regulation for Boston, which led 2-1 through 40 minutes before New York took a one-goal lead in the third period.
Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr scored a goal and helped set up two others, but it wasn’t enough to keep New York from its fifth straight road loss (0-3-2).
Thomas made 36 saves through overtime for Boston, which moved one point ahead of the Rangers in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Original Six rivals will meet again Sunday afternoon in New York.
“Look at the standings, how close we are, and back-to-back games always makes it a little more heated out there,” Kobasew said.
Scott Gomez had a goal and an assist, and Lundqvist made 25 saves for the Rangers, who lost both matchups with the Bruins in Boston during shootouts.
Kobasew shook off Michal Rozsival’s hook during a power play and snapped in a shot from his knees to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead in the second period. With Brandon Dubinsky off for slashing, Chara hit Kobasew in stride at the blue-line and watched as Rozsival tried to keep the Boston forward from getting off a shot.
As Kobasew fell to one knee, he got off a wrist shot that beat Lundqvist to the stick side for his 15th goal at 15:52.
A gaffe by Chara early in the third period wrecked the Bruins’ momentum. Jagr stole the puck along the left corner boards and skated in on Thomas. Jagr gave two fakes before stuffing the puck in for his 14th goal that gave lifted the Rangers into a 2-2 tie at 3:27.
Jagr also played a key role in giving New York the lead back on a two-man advantage almost five minutes later. He assisted on Sean Avery’s goal at 8:08 to put New York up 3-2.
“I saw urgency and intensity in the last 25 games of last year,” said Avery, acquired by the Rangers last February. “That’s urgency and intensity. Not right now, not how we’re playing. I wish it were different, but it’s not.”
Kobasew got to a rebound of Sturm’s shot on an ensuing Boston power play for his second goal of the game, tying it 3-3 at 9:30.
“When we fell down 3-2, we stayed right at them and didn’t let that goal discourage us,” Julien said.
The Bruins nearly won it in overtime, during their eighth power play, after Jagr was whistled for a questionable goalie interference call when he was pushed into Thomas.
In the closing 20 seconds of the extra session, Sturm hit the right post, and Marc Savard missed an open net.
“We still took too many penalties,” Jagr said. “We came back in the third. We had some chances. I would like to take two (points) home, but one is better than nothing and (Sunday) we have to make sure we win.”
Notes: New York hasn’t won on the road since a 6-1 victory at Toronto on Dec. 29. … Rangers C Marcel Hossa, who hasn’t scored in 10 games, was a healthy scratch Saturday for the second straight game. … Bruins LW P.J. Axelsson sat out his third straight game after bruising his right foot Jan. 10 against Montreal. … Kobasew leads the Bruins with 16 goals, one more than Sturm. … Kobasew had gone eight games without a goal.