NEW YORK – Knowing that the Rangers would come out flying, the Boston Bruins matched their desperation.
The results didn’t pay immediate dividends for the Black and Gold, however. The Rangers came out the better team for the first period and a half and earned a 1-0 lead thanks to Taylor Pyatt’s second of the playoffs just 3:53 into the second stanza.
After Pyatt’s goal, the Bruins answered quite nicely as they outshot the Blueshirts 25-10 the rest of the way. And thanks to the Merlot Line’s efforts in the third period, the Black and Gold scored two in the third to steal a 2-1 victory in Game 3 Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
“We thought it was a solid road game,” said forward Daniel Paille, who scored the game-winner at 16:29 of the third period. “We felt pretty good throughout the whole game, even when we were down 1-0, but they definitely don’t make it easy and that’s part of the playoffs.”
With all four lines rolling, especially the Merlot Line, the Bruins had the energy on their side in the hostile environment. The Rangers, did what they needed to do early on and played desperate hockey in front of the likes of Sting and Wayne Gretzky in attendance (just to name a few).
Despite Pyatt’s goal and the play of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who made 32 saves in the losing effort, the Bruins kept the pressure on. Finally, at 3:10 of the third, Johnny Boychuk shifted the momentum back on the B’s side with his fourth goal of the postseason.
“We had some very good chances and we weren’t able to find a way early on,” said Patrice Bergeron, who won 70 percent of his faceoffs Tuesday night. “We kept pushing, kept battling and I thought we were still in the game even though we were down by one. That’s what we told ourselves in the second [intermission] and going into the third is to get the momentum right away and we got that huge goal to get back into the game.”
“Everyone came out tonight and everyone came to play,” added Shawn Thornton, who tallied his first two assists of the postseason. “This isn’t an easy building to play in. They are always close games. They’re a heavy team and they are strong on pucks, so it takes everybody to take a victory like that.”
The Bruins will be in familiar territory for Game 4 as they look to close out the series and advance to their second Eastern Conference Finals appearance in three seasons. But they know the fourth victory is always the toughest to get.
Boychuk and company will have their first crack at closing the series Thursday night. But if they learned anything from the past, including their first round matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs, it’s that they need to go in with a killer instinct and finish the job.
“This was a big game for us. To go up 3-0, especially in New York because we know that it’s a hard place to play,” Boychuk said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game especially in front of their hometown, and we know next game that they are not just going to lay down. We have to earn it and we have to make sure that we are ready for that next game.”