NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Henrik Lundqvist called it "the ugliest goal I've ever seen," but to the New York Rangers it was so, so beautiful. Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask's slip in the second period allowed Carl Hagelin to score the easiest goal of his career and turned Game 4 around.
“It gave us some life," said Rangers head coach John Tortorella. "It’s funny how it works, huh?”
From that moment on, the Rangers played inspired hockey and woke up a Madison Square Garden crowd who grew restless after the Bruins took a 2-0 lead 7:41 into the second period. The energized arena reached its peak 7:03 into overtime when Chris Kreider redirected a Rick Nash pass to give the Rangers a 4-3 win, staving off elimination yet again:
The Rangers fought off elimination for a third time this postseason and will attempt to do so again on Saturday in Boston facing a 3-1 deficit.
Like Thursday night, Game 5 for the Rangers will be pressure-free. The expectations surrounding this team have changed drastically since January, and after digging themselves an 0-3 hole, handshakes were expected on the MSG ice Thursday night. That hockey tradition will be delayed for at least one more game.
“We’re breathing. We have a long road to go," said Tortorella. "We just need to think about one more game and that’s in Boston.”
It's way too early to start talking about the 2010 Bruins team that blew a 3-0 series lead to the Philadelphia Flyers. Many of the 2013 Bruins were on that team and remember full well how that series slowly began to slip away. Bruins head coach Claude Julien will certainly examine the failings in Game 4 to ensure that there is a handshake line takes place after Game 5.
Everything the Bruins did successfully through the first three games didn't work in Game 4. Boston allowed New York to score their first power play goal since Game 4 against the Washington Capitals in the opening round. And after holding the Rangers to only one goal in third periods all series, Thursday night the Bruins allowed two. Both were game-tying.
"There is no panic here," said Julien. "Had we been outworked and not been there at all, we would be talking differently here. But we didn't get outworked, and all it was, as a team, was we didn't execute as well as we have been. Our work ethic was there, but the things that we did extremely well [before] weren't that easy [tonight]."
No panic in Boston. No pressure in New York. One game to win for the Bruins. One big challenge for the Rangers.
“We should have some fun with this and don’t think about what you have to climb, think about the next game," said Tortorella.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy