Charlie Coyle scored a pair of goals, while Trent Frederic recorded the eventual game-winning goal as the Boston Bruins defeated the New York Rangers, 4-1, Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
Tuukka Rask (8-3-1, 2.71 goals against average, .896 save percentage in 12 games played) stopped 20 out of 21 shots faced for a .952 SV% in the win– the 299th of his National Hockey League career.
No Bruins goaltender has ever won 300 games in franchise history.
Rangers goaltender, Alexandar Georgiev (3-2-2, 2.80 GAA, .907 SV% in eight games played) made 31 saves on 33 shots against for a .939 SV% in 45:25 time on ice as he was briefly pulled from the game by a concussion spotter after allowing the game’s first goal after Bruins forward, Nick Ritchie, fell on top of the New York netminder’s head minutes earlier.
Igor Shesterkin (4-7-1, 2.44 GAA, .917 SV% in 13 games played) made one save on two shots against (.500 SV%) and was charged with the loss in 13:19 TOI as Frederic’s eventual game-winner got by Shesterkin while he was in net for Georgiev.
The Bruins improved to 12-5-2 (26 points) on the season and retook command of 1st place in the MassMutual NHL East Division from the Washington Capitals (11-5-4, 26 points) who were in action later in the afternoon on Sunday.
The Rangers fell to 7-9-3 (17 points) overall and remained in 6th place in the division– at least before later games on Sunday.
Boston also picked up their 50th win in 107 games at Madison Square Garden (the fourth edition of New York City’s world famous arena), despite being outscored by New York, 333-325, in that span. The Bruins are 50-46-7-4 all time at the fourth iteration of MSG.
The B’s are now 3-1-0 against the Blue Shirts this season.
After Friday night’s, 6-2, loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made several changes to his lineup utilizing members of the club’s taxi squad.
Cassidy slid Sean Kuraly to the left wing of the fourth line while inserting Greg McKegg and Karson Kuhlman back into the lineup at center and on the right wing, respectively.
McKegg, in the process, made his Boston debut on Sunday.
On defense, Cassidy jumbled his pairings, placing Jakub Zboril alongside Charlie McAvoy on the first pairing, while uniting Connor Clifton with Brandon Carlo to round out the top-four defenders.
Urho Vaakanainen was partnered with Steven Kampfer, who made his season debut on Sunday, on the bottom defensive pairing.
Anders Bjork, Chris Wagner and John Moore were healthy scratches for the B’s, while Ondrej Kase (upper body), David Krejci (lower body), Matt Grzelcyk (lower body), Jeremy Lauzon (fractured left hand) and Kevan Miller (knee) remained out of the lineup due to injury.
Callum Booth was the only taxi squad member not listed as a healthy scratch or out due to injury Sunday afternoon in New York.
Early in the opening frame, Ryan Strome cross checked Kuhlman and was sent to the sin bin with a minor infraction at 5:35 of the first period.
Boston’s ensuing power play did not last long, however, as Ritchie and Ryan Lindgren went at it shortly after Ritchie fell on top of Georgiev, resulting in two roughing penalties to Ritchie and one roughing minor for Lindgren at 5:48.
Craig Smith served one of Ritchie’s minors as the two clubs had a little 4-on-4 before the Rangers had an abbreviated power play.
Meanwhile, less than a minute later, Coyle (4) roofed a shot on the far side past the New York netminder to give Boston a, 1-0, lead at 6:41 of the first period.
David Pastrnak (8) and McAvoy (12) tallied the assists on Coyle’s first goal of the afternoon, which led to Shesterkin’s brief relief appearance in the crease.
Six seconds after the B’s went up on the scoreboard, 1-0, Pastrnak caught Alexis Lafrenière with a high stick, yielding a 5-on-3 skater advantage to the Rangers at 6:47.
New York, however, could not muster anything on the power play.
Late in the period, Clifton wristed a shot from the point that Frederic (2) deflected past Shesterkin from the slot to give Boston a two-goal lead.
Clifton (3) and Jack Studnicka (2) notched the assists as the Bruins led, 2-0, at 18:14 of the first period.
Entering the first intermission, the B’s had a, 2-0, lead on the scoreboard despite trailing the Rangers in shots on goal, 9-7.
Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (9-4) and takeaways (2-0), while New York led in giveaways (3-0), hits (21-18) and faceoff win percentage (53-47).
The Rangers were 0/2 and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle period.
Georgiev was back in net for New York to start the second period.
Midway through the middle frame, after winning an attacking zone faceoff, the B’s worked the puck around the offensive zone, whereby McAvoy ended up sending a pass to Pastrnak across the ice before receiving the rubber biscuit back on the blade of his stick.
McAvoy (3) rocketed a slap shot from the point past Georgiev to make it, 3-0, Boston at 10:20 of the second period.
Pastrnak (9) and Marchand (13) had the assists as the Bruins extended their lead to three goals.
No penalties were called in the second period as the two teams entered the second intermission with the B’s leading, 3-0, on the scoreboard and, 19-15, in shots on goal, including a, 12-6, advantage in the middle period alone.
Boston also held the advantage in takeaways (2-0), hits (32-29) and faceoff win% (56-44), while New York led in giveaways (5-2).
Both teams had 10 blocked shots aside, while the Rangers remained 0/2 and the Bruins remained 0/1 on the power play heading into the final frame.
Colin Blackwell (5) parted the seas, skated into the slot and fired a shot past Rask’s blocker side to pull the Rangers to within two goals at 10:47 of the third period.
He then delivered a quick check– whether it was an accident on a follow through or not, he caught the ire of McKegg, the recipient of Blackwell’s blow– and a scrum ensued while New York was celebrating their goal.
The Rangers trailed, 3-1, as Blackwell went to the box for roughing and McKegg went to the sin bin for slashing at 10:47.
Neither team scored a goal on the resulting 4-on-4 even strength action.
Meanwhile, Lafrenière (2) and K’Andre Miller (4) had the assists on Blackwell’s goal.
Late in the period, Smith received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at 16:09, but the New York wasn’t able to convert on the resulting power play.
With about two minutes left in regulation, Rangers head coach, David Quinn, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker to try to even up the score.
Seconds after Georgiev vacated his crease, Coyle (5) flipped the puck just about the length of the rink from his own zone past the faceoff circles into the open twine.
Kuraly (2) had the only assist on Coyle’s empty net goal and the Bruins sealed the deal on their, 4-1, win at 18:05 of the third period.
After a stoppage in play with about two seconds left in the game, the final faceoff commenced, but not before Brendan Lemieux and Ritchie had a little chat that resulted in a fight officially as time expired at 20:00 of the third period.
Lemieux also received a misconduct in the matter as the both players picked up fighting majors to finish the afternoon.
It was the seventh scrap this season for Boston and the first since Lauzon fought Pavel Buchnevich back on Feb. 12th in a, 1-0, win at the Rangers.
At the final horn, the Bruins had won, 4-1, and finished Sunday afternoon leading in shots on goal, 36-21, including a, 17-6, advantage in the third period alone.
Boston also finished the game leading in blocked shots (16-12), hits (43-37) and faceoff win% (55-45), while New York wrapped up the afternoon’s action leading in giveaways (9-4).
The Rangers finished 0/3 and the B’s went 0/1 on the power play on Sunday.
The Bruins improved to 8-2-0 (4-2-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal this season, while the Rangers fell to 2-7-2 (1-6-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal this season.
Boston also improved to 6-0-0 (3-0-0 on the road) when leading after the first period and 7-0-0 (3-0-0 on the road) when leading after the second period this season.
New York dropped to 2-4-2 (1-3-1 at home) when trailing after one period and 0-6-0 (0-4-0 at home) when trailing after two periods this season.
The Bruins went 1-2-0 on their three-game road trip and 7-4-0 in the month of February. The B’s return home to face the Washington Capitals on Wednesday and Friday before squaring off with the New Jersey Devils next Sunday on March 7th.