It is hard to imagine a scenario this early in the season where a game becomes a "must-win."
In the case of the New York Rangers, Wednesday was one of those nights.
The Boston Bruins traveled down to the Big Apple to take on the winless Rangers. Both teams are heading in opposite directions so far this season. Boston wanted to come in and establish a firm grasp on the Eastern Conference while the Rangers were looking to get back into the hunt any way possible.
Special teams play has been something that is key to the B's success. The Bruins have yet to allow a power play goal heading into this game; a perfect 9-for-9. Arguably, the Bruins' penalty-kill unit was one of the reasons why they were able to emerge with maximum points in both games.
With that being said, this is the part of the schedule where things will get interesting.
Dennis Seidenberg missed his second consecutive game due to a lower-body injury. He was replaced in the line-up by Aaron Johnson.
The Rangers jumped on the Bruins early in the game, spreading the puck and themselves around all over the ice. Marian Gaborik beat Tuukka Rask twice in the opening period to give New York a 2-0 lead. Boston started to get some shots on Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist towards the end of the period, but they were held off of the score sheet in the opening 20 minutes.
The second period belonged to Boston. The B's were clearly the more aggressive team and they produced better scoring chances. As good as the B's penalty kill is, it was their power play that sparked some energy. Brad Marchand beat Lundqvist in front of the net for his second goal of the season. Dougie Hamilton picked up his first-career NHL point as he recorded the primary assist on the goal. After Milan Lucic tied the game at two (in fact 46 seconds after), Taylor Pyatt poked the puck past Rask to put the Rangers back on top.
As the game progressed into the third period, the Rangers became more confident and it showed in the number of blocked shots. New York blocked 16 shots in the first 40 minutes, showing complete disregard for their bodies. That in itself is a remarkable number considering the power on some of the shots of the Bruins.
The only goal of the third period came when Nathan Horton blasted a shot past Lundqvist on an assist from Gregory Campbell. That set up a very brief overtime period where Gaborik completed his hat-trick to give the Rangers the 4-3 victory.
The Rangers are now back in the thick of things. One positive thing that the Bruins can take out of the loss was that they remain perfect on the penalty kill. Also, they got a great performance out of Rask in goal as he made some great stops throughout the game. He finished with 29 saves on the night.
The Black and Gold will return home for Friday's game against the New York Islanders.
Gold Star: Dougie Hamilton...For his age, he seems like he is years ahead of the competition. He is becoming more and more valuable on both ends of the ice. Two words: real deal.
Black Star: Andrew Ference...The Bruins recomposed themselves after turning the puck over all night. On this occasion, the B's alternate captain was just a little too slow getting back on a turnover that resulted in the game-winning goal.