After the Bruins played one of their worst games of the postseason, and the Rangers came up with one of their best (luckiest?), there's no reason to panic in Boston about a 3-0 series lead being cut to 3-1. Right? Right?
The Rangers stole a game because they did things they haven't been doing. Brian Boyle scored the tying goal on a power play—New York is now 3-for-42 with the man advantage in these playoffs. The OT game-winning goal came on a rush sparked by Derek Stepan winning a faceoff in his own zone—the Rangers have been dominated on faceoffs all series. But these aren't necessarily just good breaks. The Rangers deserves some credit for doing things right, finally. Unlike their first goal, the definition of a fluke:
Henrik Lundqvist called it “probably the ugliest goal I’ve ever seen.” Carl Hagelin's shot was deflected and slowed down enough to put Tuukka Rask on his backside, as the puck comically trickled past his futile stick-wave. That got the Rangers on the scoreboard, at a point they were down 2-0 and looked resigned to the offseason.
A goal like that isn't going to happen again. Or at least, not three more times, since these things run seven games for a reason. The Bruins have been the better team all series, were the better team for most of last night (at one point leading the Rangers in shots 21-8), and New York hasn't won four in a row since early March. Unless Brad Richards in street clothes is a good-luck charm, Boston still has the overwhelming advantage.
Still: history! Recent, largely irrelevant history! It was these Bruins (not these exact same humans, but guys wearing the same sweaters) that choked up a 3-0 series lead to Philadelphia in 2010—beginning with a similarly deflected overtime goal in Game 4. It was these Bruins that nearly let a 3-1 series lead slip away in the first round, until Toronto choked harder than Boston could.
And hockey momentum is particularly delicate. The NHL has seen three 3-0 series comebacks, compared to just one in MLB and none in NBA history. So stranger things have happened. As the series goes back to Boston for Game 5, is there panic in the Bruins locker room? No f'ing way, says coach Claude Julien, because the B's just got unlucky for one game.
“There’s no panic here,” Julien said. “Like I said, had we been outworked and not been there at all, it would be different here. But we didn’t get outworked. All it was is our team wasn’t executing as well as we have been lately, and we gotta go back home and play a better game. Our work ethic was there.”
Still, you're going to read a lot about comebacks and pressure and momentum in the next few days, despite the fact that 120 whole minutes of playoff hockey are still "if necessary." It's natural—what are reporters supposed to say, this series is over, Game 4 didn't matter, spend your Saturday afternoon outside instead of tuning in to NBCSN?
Nah, they're supposed to do things like pose dumb questions to Henrik Lundqvist:
Someone in the Rangers postgame locker room even suggested to Lundqvist, "All the pressure is on them now, I think."
"Um … they're still up 3-1," Lundqvist politely reminded him.