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BOSTON (CBS) — It’s an unwritten rule in hockey that for a referee to call a penalty in overtime, the transgression must be on the level of felony assault, or at the very least, it must unfairly prevent what would have been a bona fide scoring chance for the opposition. That rule applies doubly in the playoffs.
The penalty called on Rangers forward Derek Dorsett 2:20 into overtime of Game 1 between the Bruins and Rangers on Thursday night at the TD Garden fell into neither category, as he simply elected to play the body as Rich Peverley tried to skate past him after chipping the puck into the neutral zone. Nevertheless, Dorsett headed to the penalty box for two minutes.
The Bruins did not score on the ensuing power play, but they did seize complete control of the game with a barrage of rubber directed at Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers’ netminder had to make six saves in the two-minute span, including on slap shots from Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton. Lundqvist got some help from the crossbar on a bid by Jaromir Jagr, but the Rangers were able to kill the penalty and presumably were in good position to turn that into a positive.
But the Bruins wouldn’t let them.
Boston controlled the tempo of the overtime period, outshooting New York 16-5, with Brad Marchand finally ending things 15:40 into the extra period to give the Bruins a 3-2 win and a 1-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Rangers head coach John Tortorella was brief with his remarks after the game, but he made one thing clear.
“We never regrouped,” Tortorella said of his team’s response following the early Boston power play. “It was a surge. We couldn’t stop them. … We got spanked in overtime.”
The penalty call itself might have been a gift for the Bruins, but in the playoffs, games are won by the teams that capitalize on their chances. The Bruins, fresh off one of the most thrilling finishes in the franchise’s 88-year history, are on a good roll with doing that.
“It’s overtime. You have to keep going,” said Patrice Bergeron, who delivered the assist on the game-winner. “You’d like to see the puck go in, especially with the shots, but I thought we stayed with it. We got the momentum and we created some offense off of it, so I thought we just carried it on.”
Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi, who blocked five shots and logged 5:42 shorthanded time on ice (both team-highs), didn’t have an answer for not turning the penalty kill into a positive.
“If anything, I think it should have gotten us going because we were out there for a while and got the job done,” Girardi said. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t generate much in overtime.”
Ironically, it was the Rangers’ finally creating an offensive opportunity that led to the Bruins’ game-winning sequence. Derick Brassard, who entered the game as the Rangers’ leading postseason scorer and picked up an assist on New York’s first goal of the night, carried the puck with speed down the right wing. Ryan McDonagh, the scorer of that first goal, drove down the middle of the rink, and Rick Nash, still without a goal through eight playoff games now, trailed on the left wing. Brassard sized up a pass to Nash but missed the winger at the top of the faceoff circle, thanks to a poke check from the long stick of Chara.
Marchand skated to the loose puck and tapped it to Bergeron before wrestling through the grasp of Mats Zucarello on his net drive. Bergeron sent a perfect feed to the crease, Marchand directed it past Lundqvist, and the Bruins proved they weren’t going to let bad luck with posts and crossbars get in the way of a victory on this night.