By this point, most fans know that this year is a shortened season around the NHL. Games will only be played within the conference with no cross-conference games scheduled during this 48-game campaign.
As a result, some teams will wrap up their season-series against a particular opponent sooner rather than later. This was the case on Tuesday night as the Boston Bruins hosted the New York Rangers in their final regular season match-up.
A fan of either team will say that this will not be the last time these two Eastern Conference powerhouses see each other. Although it may be a bit premature, the Conference Finals is becoming a very real possibility for both Boston and New York.
The Rangers and the Bruins have done a little bit of line shuffling through the last couple of games. Both coaches have pushed the right buttons and that set up a great game at the TD Garden on Tuesday night.
Tuukka Rask was back in goal for the B's as he opposed Henrik Lundqvist. No additional line-up changes for the Bruins heading into this game.
The opening period started with both teams exchanging great scoring chances at each end. The game settled down and we witnessed a great period of hockey. From the physical hits to the great offense, the first 20 minutes did not disappoint. The only goal of the period came when Rangers forward Rick Nash split the Bruins defense to find Carl Hagelin and he beat Rask with a one-time shot.
The Rangers defense really stepped up in the second period. They made it difficult for the Bruins to get any good shot on Lundqvist, which allowed them to make breakouts in transition. New York increased its lead when Derek Stepan took the puck off of a Bruins turnover and beat Rask clean, a goal that Rask would love to have back.
After the Bruins killed off a 5-on-3 power play for the Rangers, they got caught in the vulnerable minute when Anton Stralman blasted the puck on net and it trickled past Rask. It looked as if the Bruins were going to get some momentum once David Krejci scored his fourth goal of the season after an expiring power play.
With under two minutes left, Nathan Horton and Brad Marchand each scored a goal to tie the game. Both goals were scored with the goaltender pulled. While this was happening, some fans made their way out of the Garden to head home. Remember people, there are 60 minutes in a hockey game.
After a scoreless overtime, Ryan Callahan ended the shootout in the fourth round to give the Rangers the 4-3 victory. The Bruins at least get one point out of this game.
As entertaining as this game was, imagine a seven-game series between these two teams. Hopeful foreshadowing for some playoff hockey.
The Bruins will hit the road for Friday's game against the Buffalo Sabres.
Gold Star: Dennis Seidenberg...He recorded assists on two of the goals and he was the best defenseman on the ice for the Bruins. A very solid performance.
Black Star: Tuukka Rask (26 saves on 29 shots, 3 goals allowed, .897 save percentage)...He allowed a couple of soft goals. He was good down the stretch, but you cannot ignore what he did (or didn't do) to put the Bruins in that position.