June 24, 2018
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Rangers defeat Bruins to force Game 5

By Denis Gorman, The Sports Xchange

NEW YORK — The New York Rangers are on life support.

They’ll take it over the alternative.

Chris Kreider’s goal 7:03 into overtime gave the Rangers a 4-3 overtime win over the Boston Bruins in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

“It felt good,” Kreider said of the winner. “It is so surreal. It’s not something that can be explained. It’s just something that has to be felt. It was awesome and I’m just excited to give these guys an opportunity to play another game.”

New York trails the best-of-seven series 3-1. Game 5 is Saturday afternoon at T.D. Garden in Boston.

“There is no negativity in the room,” New York’s Dan Girardi said. “We’re not worrying about anything else that is going on. We are very positive in the room and we knew we just had to win one game. Now we have to go to Boston and try to win another one.”

Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan and Brian Boyle also scored for New York. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 37 of 40 shots.

“We did show some character,” Lundqvist said. “We kind of lowered our shoulders a little bit and started playing our game. We’re playing a really good team, but something you just need to feel like maybe you can get one good bounce, and then it just turned around for us. I thought we played really well the second half of the game.”

Nathan Horton, Torey Krug and Tyler Seguin also scored for Boston. Tuukka Rask made 28 saves for the Bruins.

Boston had leads of 1-0, 2-0 and 3-2. But New York led when it counted.

“I don’t know if it’s the momentum that shifted,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “We didn’t play as well as we could have throughout the whole game.”

Horton’s power play goal put Boston up 1-0 4:39 into the second period. It was his fifth goal of the playoffs. King scored his third goal of the series 3:02 later.

Hagelin cut the lead to 2-1 at 8:39 when Rask fell down and could not reach the New York left winger’s backhander from the slot.

“I just took a step to the side in what I think probably was a skate mark or something,” Rask said. “My skate dug in, that’s what it felt like. I lost my balance and the rest is history.

“It happens to me twice a year in practice, maybe. Focus … got to be more focused, I think. Just a tough mistake. It looks pretty bad on TV, I guess.”

Stepan’s unassisted goal 1:15 into the third tied the score at 2. The New York center stole the puck from Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara behind the Boston goal before shoving a wraparound past Rask. The goal was Stepan’s fourth of the playoffs and second of the series.

“We are down by a goal going into the third and the talk is just to relax and play,” Stepan said. “We’ve kind of got nothing to lose, and found a way to win a period.”

Seguin put Boston up 3-2 with his first goal of the playoffs at 8:06 of the third.

Boyle drew New York even 1:54 later with a power play goal. It was New York’s first power play goal in 13 opportunities in the series. The Rangers finished the game 1 for 4 on the power play and are 3 for 42 on the man advantage in 11 Stanley Cup playoff games this spring.

“I think we have to get more comfortable,” Stepan said. “It’s still not the way we would like it, but we have just got to find a way to score goals. It’s a big part of the playoffs.”

NOTES: Rangers center Brad Richards announced at Thursday’s morning skate he was a healthy scratch for Game 4. “I’m just disappointed,” Richards said. The New York center has been relegated to the fourth line since Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Washington Capitals. He has averaged 10:47 of ice time in the series against the Bruins. Richards vowed to “work harder and try my best to never let this happen again.” Richards and Tortorella have a long-term relationship dating to their time with the Tampa Bay Lightning. During his postgame press conference, Tortorella was adamant that he was not blaming Richards for New York entering the game in an 0-3 hole. “By no means is this a situation where I take him out and I’m blaming him,” Tortorella said. “I’m playing Brad on the fourth line. He’s playing seven or eight minutes and it’s not good for him. It doesn’t work playing Brad Richards that way, but I also feel some other guys have played better.” … This is the 10th time the Rangers and the Bruins have met in a Stanley Cup playoff series. The Bruins have a 6-3 series edge, but Boston has never swept New York in a best-of-seven. The Bruins beat the Rangers 2-0 in a two-game semifinal series in 1927 due to aggregate goal differential. Two years later, the Bruins swept the Rangers 2-0 in the Stanley Cup final. …The Rangers will practice at their suburban facility at noon Friday before heading to Boston. …The Bruins went 2 for 4 on the power play in Game 4.

Red Wings 2, Blackhawks 0: The Chicago Blackhawks picked the wrong time for their first three-game losing streak of the season.

Jimmy Howard made 28 saves for his second career playoff shutout, and the Detroit Red Wings beat Chicago 2-0 at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday night to take a 3-1 series lead over the heavily favored Blackhawks in the Western Conference semifinals.

Game 5 is Saturday night at Chicago’s United Center.

Chicago got points in the first 24 games of the regular season en route to running away with the Presidents’ Trophy, which goes to the team with the NHL’s best record. They never lost more than two in a row … until now.

After winning the first game of the series 4-1, the Blackhawks lost the past three by a combined 9-2 score. And now, if they can’t stop their skid, their season will be over.

“We’ve got to find a way to dig in,” center Patrick Sharp said. “We’re going back to Chicago on our home ice in front of our home fans.”

Jakub Kindl scored a power-play goal midway through the second period, and Daniel Cleary added an empty-net goal for Detroit, which is the Western Conference’s No. 7 seed after barely sneaking into the playoffs.

Detroit coach Mike Babcock was asked if he were surprised that his team stands one win away from the Western Conference finals.

“If you would ask me two months ago, I would be shocked. We started playing better and better,” Babcock said. “Once we got through the Anaheim (first-round) series, you go in thinking you have an opportunity. We’re competing at a high, high level.”

Corey Crawford stopped 25 shots for Chicago.

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews — who has no goals and three assists in his team’s nine playoff games — continued to be frustrated by the Red Wings. He took three consecutive penalties — hooking, high sticking and hooking again — in the second period.

“I’m not going to say anything about the officiating,” Toews said. “Obviously I disagree with the calls, but it’s in the heat of the moment. They see what they see.”

The Red Wings capitalized with one second left in the second penalty to take a 1-0 lead when Kindl got his first goal of the playoffs at 10:03. He beat Crawford with a change-up of a shot from the top of the left circle.

It was the first power-play goal Chicago allowed in the playoffs after killing its first 30 short-handed situations. Detroit recorded its first power-play goal of the series after being foiled on its first 13 attempts.

Cleary scored his third goal of the playoffs with 39 seconds remaining in the game.

“We played a good game,” Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “We knew they would come out and play good from the start, so we wanted to come out and take charge.”

Chicago’s Michal Handzus hit the crossbar with 9:45 left in the third.

Howard made an outstanding save on Dave Bolland on a two-on-one rush 9:25 into the third period after stopping Sharp on a breakaway with 4:55 left in a first period in which the Red Wings turned the puck over five times.

“In the playoffs you need your goalie the most, and he’s been really big for us and keeping us in some games when we should have been down one or two,” Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said. “But that’s what we have in a goalie like him.”

Chicago’s Nick Leddy hit the goal post about two minutes into the second period.


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