All in all, not a bad weekend despite the Red Sox nearly getting no-hit on Friday night.
BOSTON BRUINS- With Thursday night's game-winning goal, Matt Frasier made a little bit of history by becoming the first player to score OT goals in both the AHL's Calder Cup playoffs and the Stanley Cup playoffs in the same postseason. On April 25th, Frasier tallied the OT goal in Game 2 of the series against the Springfield Falcons [the Columbus Blue Jackets' AHL affiliate- NANESB!] and Providence would go on to win that series 3 games to two. The Providence Bruins are now knotted at 1-1 in their series against the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins ['SWB Pens or 'Baby Pens' as they're sometimes referred to- NANESB!], Pittsburgh's AHL affiliate.
Meanwhile, just up the I-95 at the Garden, Saturday's contest at the TD Garden got underway with the series knotted at 2-2. The Bruins got on the board first thanks to a goal from Carl Soderberg [who was fed by a brilliant pass from Bartkowski to Loui Eriksson behind the net- NANESB!] giving Boston the early 1-0 lead. Interestingly, despite the strong showing by the Habs power play throughout the series, Montreal was shut out in the first half, despite three opportunities that seemed poised to kill whatever momentum the Bruins had gained.
However, Montreal's Tomas Plekanec would get sent to the sin bin for goaltender interference with less than 20 seconds to go in the first. Although the Bruins had some power play opportunities of their own in the first, they went 0-3 prior to the interference call against Plekanec, which carried over into the second period. With 40 seconds to go on the power play and just 1:04 into the second, Reilly Smith put the Bruins up 2-0 with a power play goal.
Less than 30 seconds later, Plekanec would head back to the sin bin on a high-sticking penalty and Montreal would pay as Torey Krug passed to Iginla who was in front of the Montreal net all by himself and buried the puck past price to give Boston a 3-0 lead.
However, with 5:20 remaining in the second, the Habs would get on the board thanks to a Brendan Gallagher power play goal to make it a 3-1 Boston lead heading into the 2nd intermission [it easily could've been a 1-goal game if Tukka Rask didn't block a David Desharnais breakaway shot on goal with 2:40 to go in the period- NANESB!].
With the proverbial 'dreaded' two goal lead, the Bruins were able to get some insurance thanks to Loui Eriksson shooting the puck past a sprawling Carey Price with just over 5 minutes remaining in regulation to make it a 4-1 Boston lead. The Habs would get a goal back on a PK Subban power play tally with 2:30 left in regulation, but Boston goes on to win Game 5 by a 4-2 final and takes a 3-2 series lead- their first lead in this best of seven series against Montreal.
Tukka Rask stopped 29 of 31 shots faced while Montreal's Price allowed 4 goals on 30 shots faced. Montreal's two goals came on the power play where they went 2 for 5 with the mad advantage while the Bruins were no longer shutout against the Habs on the power play- they went two for 4 with both goals coming in the second.
The Bruins can close the series out tonight in Montreal. Game 6 is scheduled for 7:30 ET from the Bell Centre and the game will be televised on NBC Sports Network and the CBC.
ELSEWHERE IN THE NHL- In the other Eastern Conference semifinal matchup, the New York Rangers have managed to stave off elimination after Pittsburgh won three straight games. On Friday, New York beat Pittsburgh by a 5-1 final and on Sunday night, they managed to tie the series up at 3-3 after the Blueshirts 3-1 win over the Pens.
Out in California, the Ducks and Kings have managed to even up their I-5 series with at 2-2 with each team winning on the road. Game 5 is set for Monday night from Anaheim and will be shown on NBC sports after the conclusion of the Bruins/Habs contest. Also out west, the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks have taken a 3-2 series lead over the Minnesota Wild.
In the bottom of the 8th, Tazawa came on in relief of Lester and immediately gave up a leadoff single to Andrus, but it quickly became two out and nobody on when Adrian Beltre grounded into a double play. Tazawa then got Prince Fielder to strike out looking. Burke Badenhop then came out of the Boston bullpen in the bottom of the 9th and got the first two batters he faced out before giving up a single to Leonys Martin and Rougned Odor before Andrew Miller came out of the pen to strike out Sardiñas for the final out of Saturday's game.
On Sunday, the Red Sox bats once again got their starter some early run support thanks to a Mike Napoli RBI double and a 2-RBI AJ Pierzynski single to give Boston an early 3-0 lead in Arlington on Sunday. In the 2nd inning, JBJ would come home after Shane Victorino grounded into a fielder's choice to give Boston a 4-0 edge.
Meanwhile, Lackey was cruising through the first three innings before giving up a solo homer to Shin Soo-Choo to lead off the 4th. Although Lackey got Beltre and Andrus out with no problem, Fielder and Rios would then single [Fielder reaching 3rd on Rios's single- NANESB!] but with a run 90 feet away, Lackey got Mitch Moreland to strike out and end the Rangers threat.
In the top of the 7th, the Red Sox would add to their lead with a 2-out Dustin Pedroia solo homer to make it a 5-1 Boston lead. In the bottom half of the 7th frame, Mitch Moreland hit a 1-out RBI double to make it a 5-2 game.
Miller would come on in relief of Lackey in the bottom of the 8th and start off by striking Shin Soo-Choo out before hitting Andrus with a pitch. However, Miller would get around that by striking out Beltre and getting Fielder to fly out to deep center. Koji would come on in the bottom of the 9th and get Alex Rios to ground out before striking out Mitch Moreland and Michael Choice to preserve Boston's 5-2 win.
So Boston goes into Arlington and takes two out of three from the Rangers a little over a month after hosing the Rangers at Fenway with the same outcome. This not only wraps up the season series with Texas, but brings the Red Sox over the .500 mark for the first time since the season opening series at Baltimore. Despite what some see as a lackluster start, the Red Sox are only two games behind the Orioles for the AL East lead.
The Red Sox will travel to Minnesota next to take on the Twins on Tuesday night. Felix Doubront [1-3; 5.09 ERA] is scheduled to get the start against Minnesota's Ricky Nolaso [2-3; 5.64 ERA]. First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 ET and the game will be televised on NESN.