The Boston Bruins welcomed the New York Rangers into the TD Garden to kick off their conference semi-final series, and game 1 was exactly as advertised. It was gritty. It was physical. It was ugly. And it took extra time before the Bruins were able to take the 3-2 overtime victory.
Things started out slowly as both teams seemed to be feeling each other out, this being their first meeting since very early in the season, and what was predicted to be a low-scoring defensive struggle was playing out exactly as everyone thought it would. The first period the teams combine for 20 shots, minimal scoring chances and a 0-0 tie at intermission. They then traded a pair of goals in the middle stanza, with Zdeno Chara beating Henrik Lundqvist with a knuckle-puck shot and Ryan McDonagh drawing the Rangers even, beating Tuukka Rask from the point with just one second remaining in the period.
New York came out fast to start the 3rd period as Derek Stepan finished a beautiful 3-on-2 rush just 14 seconds in, stunning the B's and silencing the crowd. Rather than stay back on their heels, though, Boston pushed right back. Just under three minutes later, rookie d-man Torey Krug, making his NHL playoff debut in place of the injured Dennis Seidenberg, beat Lundqvist with a slap-shot from the top of the circle. The goal was a rare show of effectiveness from the Bruins powerplay.
Regulation would end with the teams knotted at two a piece, but not before Johnny Boychuk unleashed a rocket from the point that beat Lundqvist but clanged the post with just one second left on the clock.
The overtime period was dominated by the home side as the B's fired 15 shots on Lundqvist and hit yet another post before Brad Marchand was able to beat the Swedish goalie to lift the Bruins and give them a 1-0 series lead. The goal was Marchand's first of the playoffs, and was set up by game 7 hero Patrice Bergeron who made a slick play to feed Marchand in front of the net.
It was a strong start to the series for Boston as they pressured New York from start to finish and if not for the blue shirt's goalie, they would have run the Rangers out of the building.
Game 2 will be Sunday afternoon at 3:00, at the TD Garden once again.