NEW YORK – Two power play goals were enough to push the New York Rangers past the Boston Bruins 5-2 to give the Blueshirts a four-point lead in the race for second place in the Metropolitan division.
Mats Zuccarello picked up his 24th goal of the season and got Rangers on the board at 8:37 of the first period on the power play. Derek Stepan also scored on the power play three minutes later on a beautiful set up by Keith Yandle to put the Rangers up 2-0.
The Bruins had a goal disallowed due to a coach’s challenge by the Rangers coach Alain Vigneault that had a Bruins player offside and preserved the 2-0 lead.
For the second consecutive game the Rangers had gotten their game off to a strong start. The second period began with Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask pulled as he was battling a flu bug. The Rangers top players all had contributions tonight as Derek Brassard picked up his 26th goal of the season and the Rangers were up 3-1 after 40 minutes of play.
Despite an 18-shot effort in the third period by the Bruins and pulling to within two goals the Rangers were able to secure the victory in the third that saw J.T. Miller pick up his 20th goal of the season. This was the first time Miller cracked the 20-goal barrier in his NHL career. Rick Nash iced the game with less than three minutes to play as he tacked on an empty-net goal.
With now just eight games remaining for the Rangers, Vigneault talked about the importance of points by saying, “Every team right now is battling real hard for points and it’s so competitive. There is so little separating teams. So much of it is power play and penalty killing. Tonight the penalty killing, a lot of it was Hank [Lundqvist] obviously, but we were able to get the job done there. I like the way we played 5-on-5.”
Keith Yandle recorded two assists while skating in a game-high 22:00 of ice time. Yandle leads the Rangers in assists (37). Vigneault had nothing but praise for Yandle’s play tonight. “I like him not only on the rush and on the power play but he does a real good job of breaking the puck out for us and helping us come out clean. He’s able to beat that first fore checker and make that pass where we can come out with speed. He’s really playing hard and well for us right now.”
Knowing that each game is important, Stepan, when asked about the team’s mentality as they push for the playoffs stated, “I thought we did a great job managing the puck tonight. Right now we are coming into each night and we understand the importance of the two points. We have to make sure when we go out there we are playing at a high level. We are in our playoff push right now.”
Consistency has been key and the Rangers have showed the last two games. They were able to come out strong and put together a solid 60 minutes; a definite turnaround from their poor west coast trip.
Now it’s a matter of building on these past two games as they look to carry it into Montreal when they take on the Canadiens Saturday night. The same effort is expected and the same result is expected – two points.
The Rangers have registered at least 25 home wins in two consecutive seasons for the first time since 2007-08 and 2008-09.
New York has earned at least one point in 10 of its last 14 games (8-4-2).
Three Rangers have tallied at least 20 goals this season (Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello, and J.T. Miller).
With the win, Lundqvist tied Andy Moog for 15th place on the NHL’s all-time wins list, and he is now two wins away from tying John Vanbiesbrouck for 14th place on the league’s all-time wins list.