BOSTON (CBS) – It was one of the more unusual goals you’ll see during these NHL Playoffs, but it’s the goal that has the Boston Bruins up 3-0 on the New York Rangers and just one win away from the Eastern Conference Finals.
With Game 3 tied 1-1 in the third period, Boston turned to it’s fourth line — dubbed the “merlot line” — for an injection of energy. The line’s havoc had already led to Boston’s first goal — a rocket off the stick of defenseman Johnny Boychuk — and their strong forecheck and desire to cause a downtown-like traffic jam in front of the net put Boston on top for good with just 3:31 left to play.
Gregory Campbell stepped up and delivered a slapper on Henrik Lundqvist, which deflected off the netminders mask and straight up in the air. When the puck returned to the ice it danced along the line, but changed directions before crossing into the goal. It looked as though it had taken a Rangers’ bounce, as Lundqvist had no idea where the puck was.
It nearly trickled out of harm’s way.
That was until Daniel Paille rushed in and took a swing at it, sending it to the back of the net and putting Boston on top 2-1.
“I felt the pressure when we were on them and had a perfect view of it from the corner. I thought it was going to bounce in but it went the other way somehow,” Paille explained after the game. “Lundqvist didn’t know where it was and I was able to come around the net and out-battle the player with it; I think we hit at the same time and it hit off my stick and went in.”
After less-than-stellar showings in Games 1 and 2, Lundqvist was on his game Tuesday night. He was stuffing breakaway bids and turned away nearly all rebounds, so those funky goals were Boston’s best chance to put one — or two — past him.
“It was one of those nights where he was on his game and you could see the confidence he had throughout the game,” said Paille. “The goals that went in, there really wasn’t much he could do; there was a screen on one and a redirect on another. We tried to do as much as we could but it wasn’t going to be one of those where you beat him clean.”
Now Boston finds themselves one win away from returning to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in the last three seasons. But after nearly letting a 3-1 lead slip away last series to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and that 2010 collapse against the Philadelphia Flyers still in the back of their minds, the Bruins know their work is far from over.
“We’re confident going in for the series, but it’s not over. I’ve been in this situation before and seen it go the other way,” said Paille. “For us, we have to have the instinct to play as hard as we did tonight. They’re going to be a team that does not want to lose that way.”
Game 4 is Thursday night in New York.
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