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Rookie defenseman helps Bruins to 2-0 series lead

The SportsXchange

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins' young defenseman has yet to panic through his first two playoff games.

The New York Rangers' stalwart goaltender, meanwhile, has reason for concern.

Rookie Torey Krug and Brad Marchand each tallied a goal and an assist, lifting the Bruins to a 5-2 win over goalie Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers on Sunday and a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

"Maybe I should (be freaking out). I don't know. But for me, if I do that, I'm going to get myself in trouble," Krug said after scoring Boston's first goal and his second in as many games since being recalled from the AHL earlier in the week. "I was just trying to go out there, not fear anything, don't be scared to make mistakes, and I was fortunate enough to help the team again today."

Gregory Campbell, Johnny Boychuk and Milan Lucic also scored for the Bruins, who owned leads of 1-0 and 2-1 before snapping a 2-2 tie and taking a commanding advantage in the best-of-seven series. Tuukka Rask stopped 35 shots for Boston.

Game 3 is Tuesday night in New York.

"At the stage we're in right now in the season, we're talking about the playoffs, the one thing you don't want to do is make a young defenseman come in and be afraid to play. You've got to be willing to live with the consequences," Boston coach Claude Julien said of Krug and fellow rookie Matt Bartkowski. "We have to trust that they are good enough in those areas that they're going to help us out.

"So far, they've proven us right."

Lundqvist, meanwhile, hasn't been the same since posting consecutive shutouts in Games 6 and 7 of New York's first-round victory over Washington. The Swedish netminder has allowed an uncharacteristic eight goals through the first two games of this series, including three in an overtime loss Thursday and his most in more than two years only three days later.

"I'm not evaluating our goaltending," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "I don't need to evaluate Henrik. We know what Henrik is."

Lundqvist was far from his dominant, daunting and dazzling self Sunday. It showed 24 seconds into the final period.

Patrice Bergeron scooped up a loose puck in the neutral zone and darted directly for the corner, sending a pass across the crease that Marchand one-timed past Lundqvist for a 4-2 lead. Lucic scored the fifth goal with 7:21 to go, the most Lundqvist has given up since yielding five on March 9, 2011.

"We gave it to them," said Lundqvist, who made 27 saves. "I thought we played a great game. I didn't think they had to work really hard to get a couple goals there.

"When you give up five goals, you can't be satisfied."

The Rangers got goals from Ryan Callahan and Rick Nash but again failed to produce on the power play. They were 0-for-5 and are 2-for-39 through nine postseason games.

"Our power play was better tonight," Tortorella said. "Didn't score, but it was better."

New York has experience overcoming early deficits. The Rangers trailed the Capitals 2-0 in their first-round series before storming back to win in seven games.

"We've done it before," Lundqvist said, "but I think we are playing a better team now, so it's going to be tough to do it."

Krug is making it even more difficult, too.

The 22-year-old has filled in valiantly since replacing injured defenseman Dennis Seidenberg to start the series. With just three games under his belt over the past two seasons, Krug seemingly has made a seamless transition from the AHL to the NHL, and the youngster put the Bruins on top early Sunday.

Daniel Horton found a wide-open Krug, who mishandled the pass at the top of the left circle before gaining control and firing a wrister through Lundqvist's legs with 14:32 to play in the opening period.

"That's a skill that sometimes you work on after practice," Krug said of using his feet to control the puck. "It's just something that I try to do, and I was lucky enough that it bounced my way.

"All that comes with confidence and being calm," he added. "If you're freaking out out there because the puck's not exactly where it is, you're going to get yourself in trouble."

The Rangers silenced the raucous crowd less than three minutes later when Callahan broke in alone on Rask, faked to his backhand and easily beat the goalie with a forehand flick the other way, knotting the game at 1-1 with 11:59 remaining.

"I thought our first period was maybe our best playoff hockey we played up to this point," Callahan said. "Obviously, we couldn't get that go-ahead goal. We were chasing from behind all night."

Krug continued the sensational start to his professional career in the second period. Planted at the blue line, he received a cross-ice pass from Adam McQuaid but again stumbled to gain control of the puck. Krug rifled a shot toward the net that deflected off the foot of New York defenseman Dan Girardi. Campbell corralled the carom and lifted the puck into the upper netting for a 2-1 lead just 2:24 into the period.

Nash snapped a dreadful start to his postseason just 56 seconds later. After missing his first 29 shots of the playoffs, New York's leading scorer during the regular season finally struck when he took a pass near mid-ice, beat Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara and uncorked a shot that got past the right leg of Rask.

Boston regained the lead for good with 7:52 to play in the second when Boychuk's wrist shot from the slot sailed past the left side of a screened Lundqvist.

Rask then did the rest.

"I know that I can't let in any lead goals most nights because he is who he is," Rask said of Lundqvist. "But then again, it's a team game, and we're more focused on the Rangers than any individual."

NOTES: Boston defensemen Wade Redden (undisclosed injury), Andrew Ference (foot) and Seidenberg (knee) all did not play. ... The Bruins own a 32-14 all-time best-of-seven series record when they win the first game. ... Prior to Game 1, the teams hadn't met in the postseason since New York beat Boston in five games in 1973. ... The Rangers are 0-for-21 on the power play in road playoff games. ... New York outshot Boston 37-32. ... Nash led New York with 21 goals during the regular season.
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