BOSTON – In the end, there were no fluky miscues of the kind that dogged them during Game 4 in New York. The Bruins were efficient and crisp, and they advanced to the Eastern Conference finals with a cleanly played 3-1 victory over the Rangers in Game 5 Saturday at TD Garden.
The B’s simply wore down the Blueshirts over the course of three demanding periods, and this time Tuukka Rask gave them the big save they needed: He stuffed a Ryan Callahan breakaway midway through the third period to clinch the victory, and the four-games-to-one series triumph.
"They deserved to win," said Rangers coach John Tortorella. "They were the better team, and they deserved to win."
It sets up a Conference final showdown between the Bruins and the Penguins, which most likely will begin on Tuesday night at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh.
The Rangers took a 1-0 lead in the opening period after David Krejci went off for slashing in some post-whistle activity with several New York players. Dan Girardi fired home a rocket from the high point, with 6-foot-7 Brian Boyle screening in front of the Boston net, as New York's previously dormant power play connected for the second time in two games.
But the Bruins snapped back with a huge second period against a top-of-his-game Henrik Lundqvist, firing 15 shots on net against the Rangers goaltender. They tied the game on a Torey Krug rocket one-timer from the right point off a Tyler Seguin feed, the fourth goal in five games for the Bruins rookie defenseman. That’s a feat that hasn’t been accomplished by a rookie blueliner in the Stanley Cup playoffs since the expansion era began.
The Bruins kept at it, and capitalized later in the period on a pair of Roman Hamrlik turnovers with the fourth line on the ice. Daniel Paille sped into the zone, fed a cross-ice pass to Shawn Thornton and it ended up on Gregory Campbell’s stick for a top shelf shot and the go-ahead -- and game- and series-winning -- goal.
Campbell added an empty-netter at 19:09 to finish it off.
GOLD STAR: Gregory Campbell always does the little things right, and always puts maximum effort into everything he does on the frozen sheet. So it was a well-deserved pair of goals for No. 11 as Campbell potted the game-winner in the second period after crashing the net, and then fired off the insurance marker in the third period for the empty net game-winner. The starring role in the elimination game was fitting for Campbell and the rest of the Bruins after their role as a big depth advantage over the Rangers throughout the series. He finished with 10:44 of ice time, a pair of shots on net and threw a pair of hits along with a blocked shot in a maximum effort kind of game that he’s become known for.
BLACK EYE: Roman Hamrlik played only 3:37 of ice time, and made a pair of gaffes on the shift leading into Gregory Campbell’s game-winner, and wasn’t seen again for the rest of the game. It was only Hamrlik’s second game in the last seven weeks after replacing an injured Anton Stralman in the Rangers lineup, and underscored just how little depth New York really had going into the matchup against Boston. It might also be the last time the 39-year-old Hamrlik is seen in an NHL uniform after a nondescript regular season for the once-excellent blueliner. The New York fourth line also was completely owned in the series by the B’s Merlot Line, and could be in line for a black eye.
TURNING POINT: It was rather poetic that Tuukka Rask was given a chance to make a game-saving stop in the third period when Rangers captain Ryan Callahan was sprung free for a breakaway chance in a 2-1 game. Rask knocked the puck out of harm’s way and made 28 saves in the victory while standing tall in an impressive response to the “Butt Stumble” goal given up to Carl Hagelin in Game 4. Given the regular season and first two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs that Rask has enjoyed, it’s becoming increasingly clear that he’s going to get paid handsomely once the season is completed. Once that save was made, the Bruins turned the puck back down to the offensive zone and held possession while extinguishing any of the Rangers’ hopes they had of possibly extending to overtime.
HONORABLE MENTION: It’s got to be Rask, who was excellent and stopped everything except a Dan Girardi power play goal where Brian Boyle blocked out his entire view of the shooter. Other than that Rask matched Henrik Lundqvist save-for-save as he did throughout the entire series, and stuffed Ryan Callahan on a breakaway in the third period when the game was still a 2-1 contest with New York simply hanging around. The .928 save percentage and 2.22 goals against average aren’t at the top of the list for playoff goalies, but Rask has been extremely good when he’s needed to be. As mentioned above, the Finnish netminder has put himself in a pretty good negotiating spot with the Black and Gold for the summertime.
BY THE NUMBERS: 10 – the number of points put up by the Bruins fourth line (Daniel Paille, Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell) during the series against the New York Rangers.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “We definitely didn’t want to go back to New York. We felt like we should have finished the series off last game, but we didn’t play good enough. Coming home for Game 5, we just wanted to play a real solid game and finish things off.” -- Tuukka Rask on the Game 5 victory that clinched the series for the Bruins.