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Cullen: Four one -goal games, three decided in OT

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Scott Cullen
5/9/2013 9:20:22 AM
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Scott Cullen has notes and stats from a wonderful night of playoff hockey, with four one-goal games -- three decided in overtime.

BRUINS WIN OT THRILLER
In a sensational hockey game with end-to-end action, the Boston Bruins took a 4-3 overtime win in Toronto and now head back to Boston with a three games to one lead in the series.

Bruins C David Krejci scored the OT winner, capping off his hat trick, on a night in which he recorded a career-high eight shots on goal. Krejci has been an elite playoff performer. In 63 career playoff games, he now has 57 points (0.90 points per game), which ranks 13th among active skaters, fitting between Brad Richards and Saku Koivu.

The first period started rough for Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, who was on the ice for both Maple Leafs goals and was minus-2 through the first period, but Chara was a positive factor the rest of the way, assisting on all four Bruins goals. That's a career-high, for the 36-year-old, by the way.

G Tuukka Rask delivered another strong game in goal for the Bruins, stopping 45 of 48 shots. He has a .932 save percentage through the first four games of this series.

Stay-at-home Bruins D Johnny Boychuk is no stranger to sacrificing his body and put up seven blocked shots and seven hits.

Toronto wasn't merely hanging around, hoping to compete with the Bruins. No, while the Maple Leafs' defence can be leaky, they also have skilled forwards that are capable of creating offensive opportunities, even against a strong defensive club like the Bruins.

Toronto outshot Boston 48-45 and outhit the Bruins 71-49. LW Joffrey Lupul, LW James van Riemsyk and RW Phil Kessel combined for 25 shots on goal, yet only managed one goal, by Lupul to draw first blood. Usually, 25 shots from players of their skill level would net more than a single goal.

The Maple Leafs' defence had an eventful night. Cody Franson was superb, finishing plus-3 and recording eight hits while playing 28:14. Dion Phaneuf played 31:14 and delivered a game-high 10 hits. Unfortunately for Phaneuf, his last hit, an ill-advised pinch in the offensive zone, led to the Bruins taking off on a two-on-one, that Krejci finished off.

Jake Gardiner, who not so long ago wasn't deemed worthy of a spot in the Maple Leafs' lineup, played 27:45 and contributed a pair of assists. Toronto's defence was taxed more than usual because Mark Fraser took a puck in the face off a shot from Bruins LW Milan Lucic. Fraser left the game, having played 12:49, and will wait to see if there are any facial fractures as a result.

Also fresh from the press box, Maple Leafs LW Clarke MacArthur was inserted into lineup and scored a goal, but only played 8:50.

Down three games to one and heading to Boston, the Maple Leafs are facing long odds -- about 7.1% of teams in this situation rally to win the series -- but after launching 95 shots on the Bruins' net in the last couple games, there has to be a legitimate confidence that the Leafs can play with Boston. Maybe they won't be able to win three in a row, including two in Boston, but Toronto has shown that, when they play well, they can give the Bruins trouble with their speed.

Additional secondary scoring, from Nazem Kadri, Tyler Bozak, Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin -- all of whom have one point in four games -- could be that little bit extra that the Leafs need to prolong this series.

RANGERS EVEN THE SERIES
The New York Rangers controlled play early, surrendered their lead to the Washington Capitals before getting back on top to stay with a 4-3 win, tying their series at two wins apiece.

Rangers LW Carl Hagelin led the attack with a goal and two assists and a plus-3 rating, while C Derick Brassard had a couple of assists and won eight of nine faceoffs for the Blueshirts.

Rangers captain Ryan Callahan again led Rangers forwards in ice time and filled the stat sheet with six shots on goal, seven blocked shots and five hits.

New York's forward lines got a boost as LW Ryane Clowe was in the lineup for the first time in the postseason. Clowe had one assist and four hits as he played a total of 12:19.

Rangers RW Rick Nash managed a modest two shots on goal, was minus-2 and played 16:49.

Washington's offence came from secondary sournces. Diminutive C Mathieu Perreault and grinding winger Joel Ward had a couple points apiece and Perrault recorded a game-high six shots on goal.

The supporting cast had to rise up for Washington because LW Martin Erat suffered an injury (upper body, could have been arm or wrist) and played just 4:42.

More importantly, the Rangers were able to neutralize Capitals RW Alex Ovechkin again, holding him to one shot on goal. Credit for the Rangers goes to the defence pairing of Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi, a duo that combined to play more than 61 minutes and blocked 10 shots in Game Four. Rangers D Marc Staal didn't play Game Four, after returning to the lineup in Game Three, so it was all the more important for McDonagh and Girardi to handle their lockdown responsibilities.

Heading to Washington for Game Five, the Capitals will have the last change, so they may have more success keeping Ovechkin away from McDonagh and Girardi, at least on occasion.

If the Rangers are going to get the job done in the last three games, they will need more from C Brad Richards and Nash, who have combined for two points in the series thus far. By the same token, Washington could use more from Mike Ribeiro, Marcus Johansson and Troy Brouwer, all three of whom have one point in the series. Richards and Brouwer both scored goals in Game Four.

ADVANTAGE: KINGS
The St. Louis Blues outshot the Los Angeles Kings 36-25, but Kings G Jonathan Quick had 34 saves and D Slava Voynov scored in overtime to give the Kings a 3-2 win in the game and, consequently, a 3-2 series lead.

St. Louis forced overtime when D Alex Pietrangelo's wrist shot found its way through the crowd with 44 seconds remaining in the third period.

RW Jeff Carter scored the Kings' first two goals, with assists from Mike Richards. There were a few statistical quirks for the Kings in this win. D Robyn Regehr led the team with four shots on goal. Regehr had no shots on goal in the first four games of the series and managed four shots in a game once in 41 games this season.

Looking to add some offence, the Kings also dressed AHL Rookie of the Year Tyler Toffoli for his first game of the postseason, playing a modest 10:29.

Meanwhile, C Anze Kopitar blocked a season-high four shots for the Kings. It's a good thing that Kopitar was playing defensively because his line struggled in terms of puck possession.

C Vladimir Sobotka handed out another eight hits for the Blues, while RW Chris Stewart paced the club with six shots on goal. Sobotka now leads the playoffs with 28 hits, one ahead of Kings captain Dustin Brown.

Every inch of ice in this series has been contested, and while the bounces haven't necessarily gone the Blues' way, they could win in Los Angeles and force a Game Seven back in St. Louis.

DUCKS GRAB LEAD WITH OT WIN
In the third overtime finish of the night, the Anaheim Ducks edged the Detroit Red Wings on C Nick Bonino's game winner. Not only did Bonino score the OT Winner, he tied for the team lead in shots on goal, with four, and led the Ducks with three blocked shots. He's been a major addition to the Ducks' lineup since returning from injury late in the season.

D Ben Lovejoy, who set up Bonino's winning goal with a nice pinch and then pass from below the goal line, finished with a plus-2 rating in Game Five.

Detroit got a pair of assists from LW Henrik Zetterberg and RW Damien Brunner had six shots on goal, but Jonas Hiller stood tall in the Ducks' crease, stopping 29 of 31 shots. Anaheim controlled play early, outshooting Detorit 18-9 in the first period, but the tables turned in the second (15-9 for Detroit) and ended 34-31 for the Ducks. The possession standouts for Detroit in Game Five were the defence tandem of Brendan Smith and Kyle Quincey.

Heading to Detroit for Game Six, the Red Wings need more production from their supporting cast if they are going to force a Game Seven. D Niklas Kronwall, who isn't really support -- he's top tier -- has no points and is minus-3 through five games. C Valtteri Filppula has one assist and is minus-2; even Zetterberg only has three points after two assists Wednesday night.

What's working well for the Ducks is that, not only does Hiller have a .930 save percentage, but their supporting cast has been vital. Bonino has three goals and four points, Kyle Palmieri has four points, Matt Beleskey has three. That helps cover for RW Corey Perry, who has just one assist through the first five games.

This is aclose, competitive series, so it shouldn't be a surprise that the team with better goaltending and more contributions from second and third liners holds the three games to two edge.

BUCCIOVERTIMECHALLENGE
On a night with three games going to overtime, it's worth pointing out the Twitter fun involved. ESPN's John Buccigross monitors the #bucciovertimechallenge, in which T-shirts are randomly drawn from correct picks of overtime scorers. Bauer has jumped in too, offering sticks if the OT goal comes from a Bauer-sponsored goal-scorer. Going into Wednesday night, I had somehow managed to get three of my last four picks correct, but regression has started. In any case, it's fun and for a good cause, Buccigross donates proceeds from T-shirt sales (you can buy if you don't win) to charities, including You Can Play, Ice Hockey in Harlem, Newtown, Jack Jablonski and Movember. For more info, check out bucciovertimechallenge.com

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

David Krejci Dion Phaneuf (Photo: Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)
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