Nick Ritchie scored the only goal, while Jaroslav Halak stopped 21 shots in a, 1-0, shutout for the Boston Bruins over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Friday night.
Halak (4-0-1, 1.38 goals against, .938 save percentage in five games played) earned his 51st career shutout in the win, as well as Boston’s first shutout of the season in his first start since Feb. 1st after B’s starting goaltender, Tuukka Rask, played in the last three games.
Rask got the bulk of the workload due to additional days off thanks to a pair of games with the Buffalo Sabres having been postponed due to the league’s COVID protocol.
Rangers goaltender, Igor Shesterkin (3-4-1, 2.16 GAA, .922 SV% in nine games played) made 29 saves on 30 shots faced for a .967 SV% in the loss.
The Bruins improved to 10-1-2 (22 points) and remained 1st in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Rangers fell to 4-6-3 (11 points) overall and stuck in 6th place in the division.
The Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body) and Matt Grzelcyk (lower body) on Friday as both players were out of the lineup due to injury.
Kase’s missed 11 games this season due to an upper body injury sustained on Jan. 16th at New Jersey, while Grzelcyk returned to the lineup on Wednesday night, but re-aggravated his nagging lower body injury and was held out of Friday night’s matchup– missing his seventh game of the season in the process.
As a result, Boston head coach, Bruce Cassidy, replaced Grzelcyk with Connor Clifton on the second defensive pairing and made no other changes to his lineup from Wednesday night’s, 3-2, overtime win in New York.
Greg McKegg, Par Lindholm, John Moore, Steven Kampfer, Callum Booth, Anton Blidh and Karson Kuhlman made up Boston’s all healthy scratches and/or taxi squad members Friday night.
Brad Marchand and Mika Zibanejad had a standoff after the pregame warmup as neither player would leave the ice (both players like to be the last one off the rink for their respective teams).
Marchand lost an ensuing rock-paper-scissors battle, which left Zibanejad as the last player off about five minutes after the ice resurfacing machines had already passed them by.
Less than a minute into the opening frame, Clifton inadvertently sent the puck over the glass and drew an automatic delay of game infraction 56 seconds into the first period.
New York did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.
Moments later, Kaapo Kakko tripped Craig Smith and presented the Bruins with their first power play of the night at 6:02 of the first period, but Boston’s power play was also equally as powerless.
Late in first period, Brandon Carlo was penalized for interference, but the Rangers couldn’t muster anything on the power play at 17:01.
Entering the first intermission at Madison Square Garden on Friday night, the Bruins and Rangers were tied, 0-0, on the scoreboard, despite New York holding a, 10-6, advantage in shots on goal.
The Blue Shirts also held the advantage in takeaways (4-3) and hits (14-7), while the B’s led in blocked shots (5-2) and faceoff win percentage (56-44).
Both teams had three giveaways each, while the Rangers were 0/2 and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play after one period of action.
Early in the middle frame, Charlie Coyle slashed Julien Gauthier and was sent to the sin bin as a result.
New York couldn’t convert on the resulting power play at 2:12 of the second period, however, and was quickly shorthanded themselves after their skater advantage ended when Brendan Lemieux was dealt a minor for boarding against Sean Kuraly at 4:23.
Boston couldn’t find the back of the net on the resulting power play.
Moments later, Charlie McAvoy and Jacob Trouba exchanged pleasantries and received roughing minors at 6:33 after a few quick punches were thrown.
Trouba picked up an extra roughing infraction, yielding another power play to Boston that went unfulfilled.
In the vulnerable minute after the skater advantage, however, Ritchie (5) pocketed the puck off of Shesterkin’s pad and in between the post for the game’s only goal at 9:27 of the second period.
David Krejci (10) and Jeremy Lauzon (3) tallied the assists on Ritchie’s goal and the Bruins led, 1-0.
On the ensuing faceoff, Trent Frederic and Lemieux dropped the gloves before attempting to bash each others’ faces in with their fists.
The two players received fighting majors at 9:28 and play continued at even strength, 5-on-5.
It was the fifth fight of the second for Boston and first since Chris Wagner fought Anthony Bitetto on Wednesday night in New York.
About a minute later, after a post-whistle scrum, Marchand cross checked Brett Howden, who countered with a slash on Marchand, while Kuraly was being assessed a boarding penalty on the original call.
With Marchand and Kuraly heading to the box while only one Ranger (Howden) cut a rut to the sin bin, New York went on the power play at 10:41 of the second period.
The Blue Shirts were not successful on the ensuing advantage.
Late in the period, Lauzon and Pavel Buchnevich gave it a go behind the play after Lauzon finished his hit on the Rangers forward behind Halak in New York’s attacking zone.
Buchnevich received five-minutes for fighting, while Lauzon picked up a fighting major as well as a ten-minute misconduct at 15:14.
It was the sixth fight of the season for Boston and the first since Frederic and Lemieux dropped the gloves earlier in the second period.
Through 40 minutes of action on Friday night, the Bruins led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 24-16, in shots on goal, including an, 18-6, advantage in shots on goal in the second period alone.
Boston also held the advantage in faceoff win% (56-44), while New York led in takeaways (11-5), giveaways (8-4) and hits (23-15).
Both teams had eight blocked shots aside after two periods.
The Rangers were 0/4 and the B’s were 0/3 on the power play heading into the second intermission.
Trouba was guilty of holding Anders Bjork at 1:38 of the third period and presented Boston with an early power play to kick off the action in the final frame of regulation, but the Bruins– once again– could not score on the skater advantage.
McAvoy tripped Kakko and presented the Rangers with a power play at 4:31 of the third period, but New York couldn’t fire anything past Halak on the resulting 5-on-4 advantage.
With 6:38 remaining in the game, Ryan Lindgren smacked his face along the glass on a followthrough from Lauzon landing an otherwise clean bodycheck.
Lindgren had a cut above the eye and was able to skate off on his own power, get a towel on the bench and some minor repairs before returning to the action in the closing minutes unscathed.
Rangers head coach, David Quinn, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker with 1:10 left in the game, but even despite calling a timeout and having a 6-on-4 advantage after McAvoy cleared the rubber biscuit over the glass for an automatic delay of game penalty at 18:58, New York couldn’t execute a game-tying plan.
At the final horn, Boston had won, 1-0, and earned a shutout on the road at Madison Square Garden for the first time since March 9, 2008, when Alex Auld earned a shutout in a, 1-0, shootout loss for the Bruins.
The B’s finished Friday night’s effort leading in shots on goal, 30-21, including a, 6-5, advantage in the third period alone.
Boston also maintained a lead in blocked shots (18-12) and faceoff win% (54-46), while New York capped off the night leading in giveaways (9-5) and hits (31-23).
The Rangers went 0/6 on the power play, while the Bruins were 0/4 Friday night.
The Bruins extended their winning streak to five games– earning each of them on the road in the process.
Boston improved to 3-1-0 when tied after the first period, 5-0-0 when leading after two periods and 6-0-0 when scoring the game’s first goal this season with the win.
The Bruins face the New York Islanders on the road Saturday before returning home (possibly) to face the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 18th (if it doesn’t get postponed).
New Jersey still has a lot of players in COVID protocol, so there’s no guarantee that Boston will play another home game before taking on the Philadelphia Flyers outdoors on Feb. 21st at Lake Tahoe.
And if the Flyers have too many players in COVID protocol, the Rangers are reportedly ready to make the trip to face Boston outdoors.