The Boston Bruins’ fourth line of Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton are everything the New York Rangers are not in the Eastern Conference semifinals: Tough, tenacious in the offensive zone, clutch and, above all else, goal-scoring.
The trio factored in on both Bruins goals in their 2-1 Game 3 victory over the Rangers at MSG on Tuesday night, as Boston took a 3-0 lead in the series and can eliminate the Rangers on Thursday night.
"They were working hard, and they've scored some big goals for us in the playoffs. I have confidence in that line," said Coach Claude Julien. "You utilize them because they're good, not because you have to."
Entering the third period, Rangers held a 1-0 lead in the third period on a Taylor Pyatt goal at 3:53 of the second. But a Henrik Lundqvist turnover led to a few golden chances for the fourth line, until Paille found Johnny Boychuk for a blast just inside the blueline that beat Lundqvist and tied the game at 3:10.
Boston took the lead for good on a strange sequence later in the period.
After Thornton won an offensive zone faceoff, the Bruins fired two shots on the Rangers’ goal. A third shot from Campbell deflected off of bodies in front of Lundqvist, with the puck flying up and over the Rangers goalie onto the goal-line. It landed squarely and then rolled away from the goal, in one of the postseason’s oddest moments.
Lest one believe the Hockey Gods favored the Rangers on this play, Paille was able to skate around the cage unchecked and knock the loose puck in for the 2-1 lead. The Rangers pulled their goalie, but were unable to mount much against Tuukka Rask (23 saves).
Outside of his stick-handling blunder, Lundqvist was masterful in Game 3, stopping 32 shots. It’s his first loss in his last six Game 3s in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Once again, it was the Rangers squandering a stellar effort from their netminder.
No points for Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard, Brian Boyle, Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin in a must-win Game 3. Brad Richards played 8 minutes and has 7 years left on his $60 million contract.
The insult to that injury for the Rangers: While their star players were silent, it was the blue-collar Bruins that led them to victory.
The fourth-liners. The grunts. The guys who sacrifice their body and do what it takes to win.
The guys John Tortorella loves to coach, whom he watched defeat the players he actually does coach, pushing this conference finalist in 2012 to the brink of elimination in 2013.