The New York Rangers will attempt to stave off elimination again on Saturday when they visit the Boston Bruins for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Bruins jumped out to a 3-0 lead in this best-of-seven series, but failed to complete the sweep on Thursday, as New York battled its way to a season- saving overtime victory. Chris Kreider's goal at the 7:03 mark of OT lifted the sixth-seeded Rangers to a 4-3 win and cut the deficit in the series to 3-1.
Still, the Rangers need to pull off an improbable comeback to make it back to the East finals, where New York lost in six games to the New Jersey Devils last season.
Only three teams have come back from an 0-3 hole in the history of the NHL playoffs. The Toronto Maple Leafs in 1942, the New York Islanders in 1975 and the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010. However, the Flyers' comeback three years ago was against the Bruins.
Kreider's speed and Rick Nash's playmaking ability led to the decisive goal in the extra session of Game 4. Nash skated into the Bruins' zone on the right wing, and pulled up at the bottom of the circle before dishing ahead to a streaking Kreider for a redirection under the crossbar to end the contest.
"I think the mentality prior to the game and during the game was just, there's nothing to lose," said Kreider, a two-time national champion with Boston College. "I was lucky enough to play with Rick tonight. I just tried to move pucks and go hard to the net. He was able to find my tape, and I just tried to put it on net."
Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan and Brian Boyle also tallied for the Rangers, who avoided being swept for the first time since 2006 when they lost to New Jersey in the opening round.
Henrik Lundqvist came up with 37 saves to help New York force this evening's Game 5 in Boston.
"We did show some character. It was tough though, probably the ugliest goal I have ever seen turned it around for us, and that's hockey," the Swedish backstop said. "A save or a goal or one shift can change everything. We kind of lowered our shoulders a little bit and started playing our game."
Lundqvist improved to 5-0 in the Rangers' last five home playoff games in which his club faced elimination
However, New York needs to win just its second road game of the playoffs to force a Game 6 in the Big Apple on Monday. The Rangers are just 1-5 as the away team in this postseason, but the lone win came in Game 7 of the first round against Washington.
Nathan Horton, Torey Krug and Tyler Seguin found the back of the net for the fourth-seeded Bruins, who failed in their first attempt at reaching the conference finals for the second time in the last three seasons. Tuukka Rask made 28 saves in a poor performance between the pipes.
"We give them two gift goals, eventually it's going to hurt. We competed hard but didn't execute as well as we know we can," said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. "There's no panic here..had we been outworked and not been there at all, I would be talking differently here."
After scoring twice to take a 2-0 lead in the second period Game 4, Rask gave the Rangers their first goal of the game. Hagelin slid a soft backhand towards the Boston net and the muted shot rolled past an over-committed Rask, who didn't let himself off the hook after the game.
"Just a tough mistake. Looks pretty bad on TV I bet," said the Finnish goaltender, who also whiffed at the puck while trying to corral it with his stick. "I just tried to whack it away and it was just awful. You have a second to decide whether you scramble or put the paddle down."
The tying goal wasn't much better for Rask, as a bit of indecision in playing the puck led to the goaltender being out of position on Stepan's goal, which evened the score at 2-2 just 1:15 into the third period. Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara also deserves blame for allowing Stepan to strip him of the puck behind the net before completing the wraparound score.
New York played without centerman Brad Richards, who was listed as a healthy scratch and replaced in the lineup by defenseman Roman Hamrlik. He is expected to be out of the lineup again on Saturday.
Richards, a former Conn Smythe winner, has one goal in 10 postseason games this season after signing a nine-year, $58 million deal with New York prior to the 2011-12 campaign.
The Bruins have played every game of this series without defensemen Andrew Ference, Wade Redden and Dennis Seidenberg, all of whom are battling injuries. Of the three, Seidenberg is expected to have the best chance of playing in Game 5.
Boston is 4-2 as the host in the 2013 playoffs and was 16-5-3 at TD Garden during the regular season.