With their backs against the wall, the Boston Bruins stepped up to the plate this weekend and delivered, as the B's took all four possible points with massive wins against the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes on back to back nights.
The Bruins came into Saturday's contest with the Rangers having lost six straight games, and it seemed like the Bruins were going to fall right out of the playoff picture. Thankfully, the Rangers took care of Ottawa 5-1 on Thursday night, so when the Bruins welcomed the Rangers to town on Saturday, the B's had the ability to pick up some ground on the surging Senators.
Milan Lucic got the scoring party started just 1:41 into the first period when Patrice Bergeron's shot left a juicy rebound and the puck deflected off of Lucic's skate and past Henrik Lundqvist. The play was initially called no goal, but upon video review it was declared that there was no distinct kicking motion and the play was ruled a goal.
Eight minutes later at 9:26, Lucic struck again as he took a pass from Torey Krug on a mini-two on one and buried it five-hole on Lundqvist to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead.
At 14:27, Carl Soderberg intercepted the puck off a turnover from former-Bruin and now Ranger-defenseman Matt Hunwick at the Ranger blue line and broke in on a breakaway where he beat Lundqvist glove side to give the Bruins a 3 goal lead heading into the first intermission.
A scary moment for Bruins' fans occurred just ten seconds into the second period, when Tuukka Rask left the game and did not return. It would later come out that the reason for Tuukka's departure was dehydration. Rask was replaced by Niklas Svedberg and returned Sunday against Carolina so there is little concern for the health of the Bruins' last line of defense.
At 5:53 of the second period, the Bruins struck again, as Reilly Smith got the monkey off of his back and buried a rebound off of an offensive rush by Loui Eriksson and Carl Soderberg, and the Bruins were up 4-0.
The game remained 4-0 until 3:11 left in the second period when Rick Nash took a pass from Chris Kreider and buried a back hand on Niklas Svedberg to make it a 4-1 game heading into the second intermission.
The third period remained scoreless until 23 seconds remaining in the tilt when Matt Hunwick ripped a slap shot from the point and beat Niklas Svedberg to make it 4-2.
It was too little too late for the Rangers however, and the Bruins got on the plane to Carolina Saturday night with two big points in their pocket after a huge 4-2 victory against the Rangers.
1:41 (Boston) - Milan Lucic 16 (Assists: Patrice Bergeron 32, David Pastrnak 14)
9:26 (Boston) - Milan Lucic 17 (Assists: Torey Krug 24, Ryan Spooner 8)
14:27 (Boston) - Carl Soderberg 12 (Unassisted)
5:53 (Boston) - Reilly Smith 13 (Assists: Loui Eriksson 24, Carl Soderberg 28)
16:49 (New York) - Rick Nash 40 (Assists: Chris Kreider 21, Derek Stepan 36)
19:37 (New York) - Matt Hunwick 2 (Assists: Keith Yandle 42, J.T. Miller 11)
On Sunday, the Bruins took the ice in Carolina the same time as the Ottawa Senators battled the Florida Panthers (both teams chasing the Bruins for the 8-seed). For the second straight game, the Bruins struck early. At 2:21 into the game, Ryan Spooner took a pass from David Pastrnak on a 3 on 2 rush and buried it five-hole on Anton Khudobin to give the Bruins an early 1-0 lead.
Tuukka Rask played Sunday after leaving Saturday's contest against the Rangers due to dehydration, and Tuukka didn't miss a beat, recording 31 saves on 32 shots.
The game remained 1-0 at the first intermission, and then with just 22 seconds remaining in the second period, Nathan Gerbe struck on a 2 on 1 with Chris Terry to tie the game at one heading into the third period.
The game remained tied at one at the end of regulation despite numerous opportunities from both squads to break the tie.
In overtime, Tuukaa Rask took a ferocious shot off the mask from fellow-Fin Victor Rask to keep the Bruins alive.
Following Rask getting repairs on his helmet, Carl Soderberg rushed the puck up the ice and behind the Carolina-net where he slid a pass into the slot, David Pastrnak was there to riffle a slap shot five hole on Khudobin and the Bruins escaped Carolina with a 2-1 overtime win.
Even better news for the Bruins, while the B's were finishing up their win in Carolina, the Florida Panthers went into Ottawa and defeated the Senators 4-2. The Bruins are now three points above the Senators and four points above the Panthers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
The Bruins return to the Garden ice on Tuesday in a pivotal matchup against the Florida Panthers.
2:21 - Ryan Spooner 7 (Assists: David Pastrnak 15, Adam McQuaid 6)
19:38 - Nathan Gerbe 8 (Assists: Chris Terry 7, Danny Biega 2)
4:23 - David Pastrnak 10 (Assists: Carl Soderberg 29, Torey Krug 25)