BOSTON (CBS) — The Bruins owned the puck for much of Thursday night’s game against the Rangers, but they had little to show for it. That was largely due to the brilliance of Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist.
The Swede celebrated his 35th birthday in style by stymieing chance after chance. It wasn’t a save, though, that sealed the victory, as much as it was a crash to the ice that drew a goaltender interference penalty on David Backes with just 2:22 remaining in a game which the Rangers led by a single goal.
There was, without question, contact on the play. But whether Backes actually invaded Lundqvist’s space remained a point of debate after the 2-1 New York win.
“I obviously don’t agree with it,” Backes said after the game. “I think we can watch the replay, I think I’m going to the net, trying to avoid contact. He comes up to initiate it, and I look and the ref’s arm is in the air, and I sit for the next two minutes in a game where we had tons of momentum and we’re making a push at the end, and instead, they get a power play and kill most of the last two and a half minutes. … Frustrating way to finish a game when we played pretty well through the whole time and we were making a push there at the end.”
Considering that the Bruins had scored earlier in the period and were making headway in the effort to score that tying goal, Backes was bothered by the timing of the penalty call as much as than anything else.
“Certainly, in a one-goal game and, you know, obviously we get the luxury of slow motion replay and to see it not on real-time, but you know, at that point in the game, it’s just frustrating, for me at least,” Backes said.
Brad Marchand, who’s probably been in Backes’ position in similar situations a number of times throughout his career, agreed with his teammate’s assessment.
“I don’t think we really agreed with it. You could see [Lundqvist] puts his arm up to block Backes,” Marchand said. “You know, that’s pretty frustrating. He gets so far out of the net there and interferes with Backes and they get the call. That kind of ended the game for us, so that’s pretty frustrating.”
Marchand indicated that it might be too easy for goaltenders to draw those penalties.
“Goalies nowadays, they know that they can’t be touched and they flop around and they interfere with guys knowing that they’re going to get to call for them,” Marchand said. “So, it can be frustrating at times, but at times it works for you. But in a situation like that where he tries to get in front of Backes, and we get the penalty and we’re down 2-1 with a couple minutes left, that’s pretty frustrating.”
Patrice Bergeron was diplomatic about the call.
“Yeah, I mean, we understand that they’re trying to protect the goalies as much as possible and I think it’s important to do so,” Bergeron said. “You get – sometimes, you get guys going after [Tuukka Rask] and you don’t like that. So, you have to respect that. But, at the same time, it’s hard. You’re trying to go to the net, you’re trying to get the rebounds, there seemed to be a loose puck in the air and you’re trying to get that. It happens fast.”
As for Lundqvist’s opinion, the netminder stated plainly that Backes made contact.
“It’s going to happen, guys going to the net, and then it’s not up to me to know if it’s a penalty or not,” Lundqvist said. “I just know he hit me. But if it’s a penalty or not, it’s not for me to say.”