The Bruins got their first taste of losing on Wednesday night, falling to the Rangers 4-3 in overtime.
Despite the disappointing outcome, however, there’s no denying the B’s leave The Big Apple with plenty to be happy about. Moral victories are a lot less relevant in a shortened season, but if they come with a point, as was the case Wednesday, you can deal with it.
That’s exactly what the Bruins were able to do, despite digging an early hole. The B’s came out with an uncharacteristically slow and sloppy start. The Rangers made them pay, too, with a pair of first-period goals.
Facing a two-goal deficit with a stingy defense and Henrik Lundqvist standing in the way, the Bruins could have packed it in. They didn’t do that, though, and Boston can take solace in the fact that they showed no quit. In fact, they did plenty of good things in the losing effort.
The Bruins came out much more inspired in the second period. The line of David Krejci, Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic started the period and set the tone with what was clearly Bruins hockey.
That momentum was sustained when they even got themselves a power-play goal as Brad Marchand tipped a Dougie Hamilton shot from the point by Lundqvist. Scoring with the man advantage is no small achievement given the B’s previously anemic power play.
Lucic eventually tied it up, but just a few seconds after that, the Bruins were tested again. Taylor Pyatt scored a goal, giving New York the lead heading into the third period.
But the Bruins wouldn’t go away. Once again, they used the penalty kill — not the power play — to jumpstart their offense. Boston got a visible jump in killing a late 5-on-3, just as they had Saturday night in Boston against the Rangers.
That momentum-turning penalty kill eventually paved the way for Nathan Horton’s first goal of the season at 15:37 of the third. It was the kind of goal that not only reminds us of how clutch he can be, but it may also be the goal that gets him going after being held pointless in the season’s first two games.
The Bruins, despite the slow start and despite trailing for much of the contest, were in position to pick up the ever-valuable point with just four minutes to play.
That’s where Tuukka Rask turned things on, and proved why the club was so confident in letting him take the goaltending reigns. Rask wasn’t necessarily bad through most of the game, but he wasn’t necessarily sharp, either. But in the game’s waning moments, the Finnish netminder proved how dominant he can be. Twice he turned away one of the game’s best goal-scorers in Rick Nash. The second opportunity, a point-blank shot from the right wing, produced a juicy rebound for Marian Gaborik, which Rask smothered in his crease.
In the process, the Bruins had improbably gained themselves a point, which is even more important given this year’s truncated schedule. There were plenty of good vibes heading into overtime — and then Gaborik struck again.
The sniper’s third goal of the night, a crushing overtime blow, kept the B’s from getting the two points.
It was an ugly start and a heart-breaking ending. However, the Bruins can be happy with just about everything else in between. If nothing else, they can look at how they started the game and view it as something of a wake-up call. It’s an unfortunate reminder of how important it is to bring their patented 60-minute effort to the rink every night.
The fact that they skated off the Madison Square Garden ice with a point in hand, though, is something they certainly should be able to build upon, especially if they use the game’s bookends as learning opportunities.