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NHL Playoff Game Day 22: Bruins-Rangers; Kings-Sharks

The Bruins scored in the final minutes of regulation to win the game and take a commanding 3-0 lead in their series against the Rangers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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The Bruins scored in the final minutes of regulation to win the game and take a commanding 3-0 lead in their series against the Rangers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

GAME 3: BOSTON 2 at NY RANGERS 1 - BRUINS LEAD 3-0

Why Boston won: The Bruins fourth line of Dan Paille, Scott Thornton and Gregory Campbell outscored New York's top two offensive lines. Actually, there are more layers to it than that, but simply put the Bruins are taking the bulk of the attack to the Rangers. Territorially, the Bruins dominated and quite frankly, it looked like it was just a matter of time before the Bruins found a way to beat Henrik Lundqvist.

Why New York lost: Technically, the Rangers lack of efficiency on the power play and execution at even strength don't provide enough offense to beat Boston. New York's lack of creativity with the puck is immensely frustrating for coach John Tortorella and all Ranger fans. The Rangers' shot-blocking skills are impressive, but aren't enough to win a second-round playoff game, let alone a series.

Play of the game: Winger Thornton won a key faceoff in the Rangers zone in the final minutes of a 1-1 game and a few seconds later Campbell's shot from 50 feet deflected off the crossbar when it was pounced on by Paille and shot behind Lundqvist.



Three Stars
1. Henrik Lundqvist: The Ranger goalie made several key stops in the opening 24 minutes – including a Tyler Seguin breakaway – when the game was scoreless. He was sharp with the Rangers nursing a 1-0 lead and save for a goal coming off a Boston screen in the third period and Paille's rebound winner, was near flawless on home ice. He made 32 saves.

2. Patrice Bergeron: He was the goat after a giveaway on New York's goal, but soon turned into one of Boston's key shutdown specialists thereafter. Even with blood gushing from a cut near his right eye, Bergeron was on the ice for key faceoffs while generating offense and stymying New York's centers.

3. Tuukka Rask: For most of the game, Rask was simply steady and dependable against New York's pop-gun offense. But as the Rangers pressed in the third with the game tied 1-1, he made some key saves, including an A-list kick save on Rick Nash with eight minutes remaining.

What's next: All-important Game 4, the most pivotal game in any series. There are only three potential outcomes out of any Game 4 in a best-of-seven series. It's either a commanding 3-1 series lead for one team, all square again at 2-2 (except in this case), or in this series, the Bruins can complete a four-game sweep on Rangers ice. If that happens, you'd have to figure it's Tortorella's final game behind the New York bench. Only three teams in NHL history have rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win a series. The Bruins are a lock to advance. - Brian Costello

GAME 4: SAN JOSE 2, LOS ANGELES 1 – SERIES TIED 2-2

Why San Jose won: The Sharks found themselves in a similar place to where they were in Game 2. In both instances San Jose held a third period lead and had to fend off a feverish third period push by the Kings. Last time they allowed the tying and winning goals in a late penalty kill. This time they allowed only one and triumphed. While Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau have stepped up at different times, Joe Thornton had his best effort yet.

Why Los Angeles lost: Their third period attack was just not enough to make up for a first period malaise. In Game 2 they got lucky and actually jumped out in front of San Jose first, but were stuck playing catch up all game long Tuesday night. That’s a bad formula against a team that matches up so well with Los Angeles. They got robbed of one goal on a terrible early whistle, but really, they shouldn't have waited so long to ramp up the offensive pressure. Casey struck out – so did the Kings.

Play of the game: An inexcusably early whistle from Brad Meier erased a squeaker goal for the Kings, which ended up as the difference on the scoreboard. On its own, that negatively impacts the game enough. But there was also a weak roughing call on Colin Fraser that gave the Kings their third straight penalty of the game – to the Sharks’ zero – and resulted in the 2-0 goal. All you can ask of referees is to be as consistent as possible and to not influence outcomes with missed or bad calls at crucial moments. In this series, that hasn’t been the case.



Three Stars
1. Joe Thornton: His most noticeable game yet – does it mean he’s about to impose himself through the rest of this series? Thornton recorded a finesse assist, as he’s known to do, and won 67 percent of his draws.

2. Brent Burns: Continues to be a force at forward. Burns scored the game’s first goal and recorded six hits, including a thunderous hip check on Brad Richardson. Ya, he took a late boarding penalty, but you fully accept and embrace the good and the bad in this type of player.

3. Antti Niemi: Made 22 saves on 23 shots, which doesn’t sound all that star-ish, but more than half (14) of them came in the final frame. Niemi barred the door shut and held up his end of the bargain in the win.

What’s Next: Except for a couple stretches that had no more than one period of sustainability, San Jose has been the overall better team through this series. But at some point they’ll have to win in Los Angeles, where the Kings have been untouchable. For all the flak Joe Thornton has taken over his playoff career, the guy has been a post-season performer for a few years now and denying that sets the demand too high. But, oh boy, could he get a lot of credit if he uses this game as a catalyst for a series-saving contribution. San Jose raised a lot of eyebrows with these two wins and calmly slid the “must win” card back across the table to the Kings. What happens next in this wild series? What happens next is anyone’s guess. – Rory Boylen

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